NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey made clear Monday that only Congress can truly set a national standard for name, image and likeness compensation in college athletics.
Sankey said NIL isn't a partisan issue and that state legislatures haven't yet enforced their NIL laws, some of which would bar the NCAA and conferences from adopting and enforcing their own standards.
“Congressional action is then the only way to provide a national uniform standard for name, image, and likeness activity and to draw the lines around the boundaries that do not become simply pay for play,” said Sankey, echoing the stance of the NCAA on one of the most divisive issues in college sports.
Asked if a uniform NIL standard would help LSU, coach Brian Kelly said the challenge is there’s not much regulation now. That leaves coaches trying to control what they can, which is difficult because NIL involves groups separate from universities.
Different laws in each state leave the SEC unbalanced, he said.
“I’m not here to fix it. I’m here to navigate it. If I can lend my experience in any shape or fashion, I will do that,” Kelly said. “But I can tell you what we’re living, and that’s third-party involvement and different rules of engagement by different states.”
Sankey said the league heard again in late June from athletes asking for uniform NIL rules. They want help trying to decide which university to attend and to even the competition on the playing field in the SEC.
“Uniformity will ensure a high school student and his or her family do not have to investigate potentially dozens of different state laws or university policies to figure out how they can be active in this name, image and likeness world,” Sankey said.
Sankey said the SEC and its 14 schools are used to providing support to athletes. But he said the students want protection for themselves and for international teammates to access NIL “that are consistent across the country" and not just a “patchwork” of state laws.
“Our student-athletes deserve something better than a race to the bottom at the state legislature level," Sankey said.