WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden administration is poised to wade into the debate over college athletes’ economic rights. The White House will hold an event Wednesday with former college football players, including Andrew Luke, to discuss revenue sharing, security standards and athletes having a voice in decisions, a White House official said.
The White House has remained on the sidelines as the NCAA and its member conferences push for legislation on a wide range of topics ranging from name, image and uniform marketing to the employment status of athletes. The NCAA and its conferences have petitioned Congress to prevent athletes from being recognized as employees. But the Biden White House has remained silent on what it thinks about these bills.
Now the administration is about to weigh in. The event at the White House, which includes former players and advocates, is expected to highlight the sentiment that athletes should be treated fairly, including financially, the official said.
Luke, a former Stanford and Indianapolis Colts quarterback, is one of six former college football players set to attend. Desmond Howard, Ryan Clarke and Rod Gilmour are other familiar names. Former Georgia running back Keith Marshall, now on the team, was invited along with Jordan Meachum, a former Sacred Heart and South Dakota State Collegiate Football Players Association representative. ESPN anchor Kevin Ngandi and several White House officials are scheduled to attend.
How important is this?
It seems important because the NCAA hoped that Congress would help the organization through court cases, challenges from the National Labor Relations Board and state and federal lawmakers seeking to fundamentally change the business model of college athletics. It’s unclear whether the Biden administration is going as far as supporting athletes’ efforts to become employers and unionize, but if so, it’s a big moment in the fight — and one that goes against the NCAA’s wishes.
Luke’s involvement is interesting, given his background: his father, Oliver, worked in the NCAA from 2014-18, and before that, he was the athletic director at West Virginia. Andrew Luck has been out of the spotlight since his sudden retirement from the NFL before the 2019 season.
Howard is a familiar face on ESPN’s “College Game Day.” Gilmore is an analyst on ESPN Games. Clark, a former LSU and NFL safety in his post-game career, is a vocal personality and NFL analyst for ESPN.
The incident comes amid other setbacks for the NCAA: A federal judge on Friday night granted class-action status to the House and the NCAA’s injury division in a lawsuit filed on behalf of former players who failed to exercise their NIL rights. .
That case could cost the NCAA and its member schools billions of dollars. Meanwhile, Johnson vs. The NCAA, where the former Villanova player filed suit, has put the employment status of athletes front and center, arguing that, at the very least, college athletes deserve an hourly wage for their work.
State lawmakers introduced the NIL era, which began on July 1, 2021, and allowed athletes to reap profits from the NIL. Since then, the NCAA and its power brokers have pushed for federal legislation that they hope will lead to uniform standards across the country. Little movement has been made on that, and meanwhile, the NCAA is increasingly considering athletes to be employees under the law.
Now the White House is moving in. At the very least, this suggests that the federal law has yet another major hurdle. But what exactly was said Wednesday, and by whom, could affect where the debate comes from.
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