The Drake Group Applauds Student-Athlete Equity Act and Cheers on Congressional Action on Intercollegiate Athletics Reform


David Ridpath, Ph.D
Gerald Gurney, Ph.D.
Past Presidents
The Drake Group

The Drake Group Applauds Student-Athlete Equity Act and Cheers on Congressional Action on Intercollegiate Athletics Reform

NEW HAVEN, CONN. – Today, The Drake Group issued a strong statement in support of U.S.

Representative Mark Walker’s (R-N.C.) Student-Athlete Equity Act. This legislation would amend the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code to remove the restriction on college athletes using or being compensated for use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).

Dr David Ridpath and Dr. Gerald Gurney, past presidents of The Drake Group, issued a joint statement commenting: “The NCAA has created unreasonable pressure on non-profit institutions of higher education to pay salaries to their athletes because it has unfairly prohibited college athlete outside employment and denied athletes the right to exploit their own NILs separate from their college athletic programs. Non-athlete students who similarly excel in the performing arts do not have such employment or NIL restrictions. Members of the public often don’t realize that NCAA rules prohibit employment related to a college athlete’s athletic talent (e.g., running their own sports camps, providing individual instruction to others on a fee-for-lesson basis, etc.) or exercising the right to economically exploit their own names, images and likenesses (NIL) without using the name or affiliation with their colleges or universities.”

The Drake Group believes that potential college athlete abuse of NIL rights can be easily controlled by making such employment transparent rather than the current overly restrictive system that encourages under the table payments from shoe companies and others. If the NCAA allowed NIL payments or any outside employment compensation short of playing professional sports or competing for prize money, it could easily require that: (1) athletes report their outside employment to their institutions, (2) employment compensation be consistent with market rates, (3) outside employment not be arranged by the institution or representatives of its athletics’ interests and (4) athlete does not use the name, marks or affiliation with the collegiate institution.

The Drake Group strongly disagrees with the NCAA’s position on the Walker bill:

In addition, the federal appellate court in the O’Bannon v. NCAA matter already established that the cost of a student-athlete’s attendance is the appropriate limit in compensating studentathletes for their athletic ability and for any name, image or lik eness that are a part of their participation in college athletics.

This bill is unnecessary and may benefit only a small number of student-athletes and cause unintended consequences and negatively impact opportunities for all other college athletes. This is critical to k eep in mind because the NCAA offers a unique model that creates opportunities for academic and athletic achievement to nearly 500,000 student-athletes across 24 sports each year.[1]

This NCAA portrayal of the O’Bannon decision is misleading. The O’Bannon injunction addressed college athletes sharing the higher education institution’s revenues related to the use of athlete NILs in their own intercollegiate athletic programs. In any event, Congressional action like Student-Athlete Equity Act would take precedent over any court decision. The Drake Group emphasizes that athletes should have the right to exploit their own NILs outside of and unrelated to such institutional use.

Even the courts have recognized that the NCAA’s amateur status rules limiting outside employment and compensation are bogus. The NCAA continues to demonstrate that controlling the cost of the college athlete labor force and maintaining its college sports product monopoly is more important than protecting the health and well-being of college athletes and academic integrity of higher education institutions. It is well past the time when Congress should intercede and there is more that Congress can and should accomplish.

[1] National Collegiate Athletic Association. NCAA Statement on Improving Student-Athlete Experience. March 14, 2019. Retrieve at news/ncaa-statement-improving-student-athlete-experience

Drake Advisory Council expert Andrew Zimbalist, Ph.D., The Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College is available to respond to media queries related to NIL rights.


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