the BigAmateurism monologues

A series of events over the last 18 months—some unforeseeable—have created a perfect storm that will change college sports forever. The NCAA's bait an…
Jul 16th, 2021 | 1:07:06

39: The “Uniformity” Canard

As the NCAA’s grip on its monopolistic empire slips away through its arrogance, greed, and incompetence, the quest for “uniformity” in name, image, and likeness legislation is alive and well. The NCAA, Power 5, state legislatures, governors, individual NCAA institutions, and the Uniform Law Commission cling to the myth that material non-uniformity exists in the evolving NIL regulatory marketplace. In the federal legislative arena, the NCAA and Power 5 use uniformity as the basis for their campaign for a single, national, “uniform” standard for NIL “compensation.” In this context, the use of “uniformity” is nothing more than a seductive veneer for federal preemption of all state, institutional, or private commission NIL regulations that threaten the NCAA's monopolistic control over amateurism-based compensation limits. This use of “uniformity” has little to do with consistency on substantive NIL rights. Instead, it is a pretext for the elimination of all other legislative external regulators of college sports. States, member institutions, and the ULC have endeavored in good faith to offer bona fide, substantive NIL opportunities for athletes. Contrary to portrayals of these efforts as resulting in an inconsistent “patchwork” or “hodgepodge” of conflicting NIL rules, there is striking similarity among these proposals. These similarities are largely built around amateurism-based limitations on NIL activity. These limitations align with the NCAA/Power 5’s “guardrails” and “consensus principles” that defined the NIL debate from the very beginning in early 2019. In this episode, I use as an example of these dynamics the recently adopted ULC “Uniform College Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness Act.” Ironically, despite the NCAA’s waning influence in college sports, the very principles upon which its business model is predicated have been preserved in laws and regulations ostensibly designed to move away from NCAA amateurism-based restrictions. In attempting to strike a balance between moving athletes’ rights forward and preserving the “integrity of college sports” (insistence on framing NIL regulation around “amateurism”, the “collegiate model”, the “student-athlete”, and the micro-regulation of “bad actors”) have external regulators tilted that balance in favor of NCAA/Power 5 status quo commercial interests?