Senator: Allowing college athletes NIL pay is 'huge mistake'

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The Hill

File-Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, Tuesday, June 23, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. A fourth congressional hearing this year on how to allow college athletes to earn money off their names, images and likenesses came Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, with a stern warning from one senator. I think this is a huge mistake, Burr, said of athletes profiting from NIL. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP, File)

The fourth congressional hearing this year on how to allow college athletes to earn money from their names, images and likenesses came Tuesday with a stern warning from one senator.

“I think this is a huge mistake,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said.

The U.S. Senate Committee of Health, Education, Labor & Pensions held a hearing on compensating college athletes as the NCAA changes its rules to allow athletes to profit from their fame.

University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Utah State athletic director John Hartwell were among those who testified along with Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and advocate for college athlete rights, and Ohio State director of track and field Karen Dennis.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the committee, opened the hearing by defending the NCAA and its model for amateurism. He suggested athletes should have to share any money they earn with their athletic programs.

Alexander also said Congress should protect the NCAA's right to make rules regarding NIL compensation.

“I do not see a good ending to allowing a few students to be paid by commercial interests while most of their teammates are not,” said Alexander, who ran track at Vanderbilt in the 1960s. “If young athletes want to be part of a team, enjoy the undergraduate experience, learn from coaches who are among the best teachers and be paid a full scholarship that helps them earn a degree worth $1 million during their lifetime their earnings should benefit student-athletes at that institution.”

“If they prefer to keep the money for themselves, let them become professionals," he added.