Radakovich speaks on Capitol Hill, urges Congress to step in regarding NIL


by - Senior Writer -
Radakovich appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Radakovich appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Clemson took its turn on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Clemson Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich was one of seven people who spoke during a hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on “Protecting the Integrity of College Athletics.” During his time in front of the Senate, Radakovich said that Congress needs to step in and take action regarding impending name, image and likeness (NIL) rights for collegiate student-athletes.

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary is chaired by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

In April, the NCAA Board of Governors supported rule changes in each division to allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics. It also supported compensation for other student-athlete opportunities, such as social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances within the guiding principles originally outlined by the board in October. The goal is to have new name, image and likeness legislation adopted by each division at the 2021 NCAA Convention and then implemented for the 2021-22 academic year.

The NCAA and the Power Five conferences -represented by Radakovich -- have both presented plans for allowing athletes to monetize their NIL with certain regulations that they say are designed to prevent corruption, especially in the recruiting process that is unique to college sports. The group is asking Congress to pass a federal law that would create nationwide standards for how athletes can profit while in school and provide a "safe harbor" antitrust exemption that would protect the NCAA and its member schools from lawsuits related to the proposed rule changes.

Radakovich introduced himself before speaking to the committee.

“Chairman Graham, Ranking Member Blumenthal, and distinguished members of the Judiciary Committee, on behalf of Clemson University and the other 64 institutions in the Autonomy Five conferences, thank you for providing me with this opportunity to testify on protecting the integrity of college athletics. I look forward to discussing reform proposals regarding student-athletes’ use of their name image and likeness, or NIL.

“Student-athletes on our 19 intercollegiate teams at Clemson - like most in the Atlantic Coast Conference – have at their disposal all of the tools that they need to learn, to find a career passion and path, and to get on the road to success. The list is long, and you may not be aware of all of them.”

Radakovich listed the benefits available to student-athletes, including scholarships, career counseling, academic counseling, unlimited meals and snacks, world-class medical care, post-eligibility care for athletic injuries, post-eligibility scholarships, housing, and laptops just to name a few.

“In all, at a typical university in one of our Autonomy Five conferences, the combined value of these benefits is between $70,000 and $125,000, per student, per year,” Radakovich said. “Much of the public debate surrounding NIL is focused on the very few student athletes who are destined to make millions in professional sports. I would encourage this distinguished committee to broaden that focus to the diverse and overwhelmingly larger population of students in all sports. The right balance must be struck between the interest of these two groups. The wrong decisions on NIL policy could be detrimental to all student-athletes, those in and out of the spotlight, and especially for those in sports that do not generate revenue. In each academic class at Clemson, we have 125 or so student-athletes.

“Only a handful in each class will ever participate in professional sports. Across the country, 180,000 students of a wide variety of backgrounds compete at the Division I level in sports and just a few hundred will ever play their sport professionally after college. The rest will embark on professions determined by their interests and by their achievements in the classroom. The provision of educational benefits, across the board to a diverse group of student-athletes, is what makes the American collegiate model of athletics unique – and it is that model that we are asking Congress to preserve, for the benefit of student-athletes, as it considers reforms to laws surrounding NIL.”

Radakovich then said Congress to needs to step in to ensure a level playing field.

“To preserve the integrity of competition in college athletics, we need one national standard on NIL,” he said. “That standard must be universal, fair, and benefit all student-athletes and, therefore, preventing disadvantages for certain students in certain states. By enacting a single national standard, Congress will guarantee all student-athletes the same set of rights and protections.”

According to ESPN, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D- N.J.) pressed NCAA President Mark Emmert and the NCAA to go further in what they are willing to give to athletes. Blumenthal and Booker said they are working on developing a college athletes bill of rights to protect the health and well-being of athletes in ways that go beyond the opportunity to make money.

"You're asking us for antitrust exemption and pre-emption, and time is not on your side," Blumenthal said to Emmert. "I would suggest that maybe you should up your game here on all these other protections if you're even thinking about that kind of immunity."

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