MIAMI – The NCAA is set to delay a potential landmark vote on legislation that would permit college athletes to be compensated for their fame for the first time after the association received a warning from the Department of Justice about potential antitrust violations.
NCAA President Mark Emmert on Saturday emailed a letter to Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the DOJ's antitrust division, saying he strongly recommended putting off votes on new name, image and likeness rules by two key legislative bodies that had been scheduled for next week.
The letter was obtained by The Associated Press. The New York Times was first to report on Emmert’s letter to the Department of Justice.
USA Today reported Friday that Delrahim had sent a letter to Emmert, expressing concerns about the NCAA’s NIL proposal and the restrictions it put on athletes’ ability to access the free market. A copy of that letter was obtained Saturday by the AP.
“Ultimately, the antitrust laws demand that college athletes, like everyone else in our free market economy, benefit appropriately from competition,” Delrahim wrote.
Under the NCAA's proposal, schools could block athletes from entering sponsorship agreements that conflict with their schools’ deals. For example, a Nike school could prevent one of its athletes from striking a deal with another shoe or apparel company. Also, athletes would not be permitted to endorse products or companies such as alcohol or gambling that conflict with NCAA values.
Delrahim said the NCAA’s transfer rules could also be in conflict with antitrust laws. A proposal that would loosen restrictions on transferring athletes in high-profile sports such as football and basketball was expected to be passed next week, but now that vote also is being delayed.
“It’s extremely frustrating when we have so many people in the membership, so many presidents and (athletic directors) and faculty reps working on doing the right thing for students, especially around transfers and creating new opportunities, to have to now say we’ve got to pause until we sort this out,” Emmert told the AP.