Bipartisan bill would compensate college athletes

After a similar bill passed Iowa House and Senate subcommittees and the Senate Education committee in 2020, Senators Nate Boulton and Brad Zaun have introduced a new bill to allow student athletes in Iowa to profit from promotional use of their names, images, and likenesses as early as July. The bill, Senate File 245, would allow student athletes to financially gain from marketing opportunities. Unlike the prior proposal, the bill does not include a provision to require money to be placed in a trust until the student athlete is no longer eligible to compete in college athletics. Six states have enacted similar legislation.

“We have seen an extreme imbalance of power in a rising tide of money that flows all around and through college athletics,” commented Senator Boulton. “The NCAA continues to fail to address this issue, and the result is college athletes surrendering very personal rights that no other college students are required to give up as part of the educational process. We have a duty to protect these students and their interests.”

Several current and former athletes have worked with Senators Boulton and Zaun on name, image, and likeness (NIL) legislation and are offering their support of the bill. Jordan Bohannon, a current starter with the highly-ranked basketball team at the University of Iowa: “I am in full support of this bill. The college years are some of the most valuable years of many college athletes’ lives. We’ve been denied basic rights and protections for far too long. This NIL bill gives us rights that our non-athlete classmates already have. Thank you to Senator Boulton and Senator Zaun for meeting and listening to us.”

Iowa women’s basketball player Caitlin Clark, a first-year player who has made national news with her on court successes this season: “As a female college athlete, valuable opportunities could come in our college career that may not be given at a professional level, especially with the support of female athletics we have here in the state of Iowa. The NIL bill gives student athletes opportunities non-athlete students already have. I am appreciative of Senator Boulton and all the work he has done to move this bill forward.” 

Former Drake basketball player Adam Emmenecker, the 2008 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, offered support: “Collegiate athletes come from all types of socio-economic backgrounds. Some take student loans. Some qualify for Pell grants. Athletes should be granted the same rights of the university they work for – to utilize their talents, work ethic, drive, love for sport, and success on the court/field to leverage their likeness for personal gain. Athletes carry the majority of the risk. Let them share in a piece of the earned reward.”

The bill’s cosponsors come to this issue with unique perspectives. Senator Boulton is a practicing labor attorney who taught collegiate sports law classes prior to his election to the Iowa Senate while Senator Zaun had a son who played NCAA Division I football.