Girod at Student Senate 9.5

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod provides opening remarks at the first Student Senate meeting of the semester.

Chancellor Douglas Girod visited Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to attend a congressional hearing about the opportunity for student athletes to profit off of their name, image or likeness (NIL). 

In September 2019, California passed a law stating that college athletes would be allowed to have individual endorsement deals in 2023. The bill, named the Fair Pay to Play Act, had been in the Senate for almost a year before action was taken. There is now NIL litigation pending in over half of the states, but Girod is calling for a federal solution. 

“Only a federal approach that creates a level playing field for competing athletes and universities makes sense,” Girod said. “We must not forget that more than 98% of student athletes do not turn professional in their sport after graduation.”

A major concern of the NCAA is that laws would greatly change the collegiate model. However, state legislators are still pushing the issue of student athlete compensation forward in the legislation. 

“The bottom line is, there are ways to allow student athletes to benefit from Name, Image and Likeness while maintaining the benefits of the collegiate athletic model,” Girod said in his statement.

Athletic Director Jeff Long attended the hearing with the Senate Commerce subcommittee on manufacturing, trade and consumer protection when Girod referenced the current allegations against Kansas. Girod was quick to say he doesn’t agree that evidence presented backs up the allegations.

Girod was accompanied at the hearing by the commissioner of the Big 12 conference Bob Bowlsby and NCAA President Mike Emmert.

“The American collegiate model of intercollegiate athletics has no parallel in the world,” Bowlsby said in his testimony. “We are not the NFL, NBA or MLB where well-organized drafts determine the participants. Neither are we the Olympics where the athlete’s only choice of participation is with their country of origin. Recruitment — especially in Division I — is highly competitive and highly regulated. To replace or significantly amend the current benefits system, we must be able to move ahead with assurance that recruitment can exist and that integrity can be maintained and enhanced.”

This subject is a polarizing issue. On one hand, many argue that most Division I student athletes are benefiting off of receiving a free or discounted education, so why should they get the advantage of making money on top of that? On the contrary, others argue that student athletes don’t have time to make money on the side due to the time constraints of practice and classes. 

While there is no right or wrong side to be on, it will certainly take a while until a conclusion is made at the federal level.