Senator Tommy Tuberville on NIL: “We’re Going to Lose College Sports As We’ve All Known It”
U.S. Senator and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville said he plans to introduce federal legislation to regulate how name, image and likeness deals are being used in college athletics to save the institution as we know it.
Tuberville is a Republican serving his first term in the Senate after unseating Democrat Senator Doug Jones in 2020. He joined The Game with Ryan Fowler on Tide 100.9 Thursday to talk NIL, the upcoming midterm elections, the second amendment and more.
He said he and Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia legislator who has long been close friends with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, were reluctant to enter the NIL discussion but felt obligated to do so after hearing from sources around the country asking for some direction from D.C. on the complicated subject.
"The last six, seven months I've been just inundated with coaches and administrators and commissioners, people all over the country -- former players, present players, parents [who say] 'Coach, we need your help,'" Tuberville said on the show. "And so Joe Manchin and I got together and decided, 'Let's see what we can do. Let's see if we can help," because I'm afraid we're going to lose college sports as we've all known it for the past 30, 40, 50 years, and we do not want that to happen. And unfortunately, it's getting out of control, there's no guidelines and we have no guidance from the NCAA because they're scared of their own shadow, they always have been."
In a rare unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2021 that preventing college athletes from financially benefitting from their name, image and likeness violates antitrust law, which opened the door for millions of dollars in new deals for star players.
Tuberville said he has no intention of challenging that decision and that players should be paid, but that some regulation must be established.
A 9-0 Supreme Court or just a majority Supreme Court means they mean what they're talking about, OK?" Tuberville said. "So we're not even going to get involved in that part."
Tuberville said inconsistent laws from state to state gave some programs in the county an unfair leg up in the recruiting process, and that so much money flowing directly to players might jeopardize entire athletic programs at colleges across the country.
"What we want to do is protect all the sports in college athletics. What concerns me is that if we keep down this path, money goes to just a few players and you don't get money put in the coffers of the athletic department and you start losing sports -- men's and women's sports -- we can't have that to happen," Tuberville said. "We want to make it as a level playing field as possible for people in every state, whether its Hawaii or whether it's Alaska or whether it's Alabama or New York, everybody's got to have some guidelines and hopefully we can come up with some kind of ideas to make it a law. Now once it's the law, it is a law when it goes through a period, and it is this is not the NCAA
you're dealing with. I mean, this is the Federal Government."
Tuberville told Fowler that he and Manchin expect to collect feedback for several more weeks before getting a team of 40-50 people together to draft legislation to eventually present on the Senate floor.
"I've been in sports all my life and college athletics and college sports did so much for me, I want to give back so if we can help, we'll do it," Tuberville said. "There might not be anything we can do, Ryan, at the end of the day. I hope we can come up with something that will help and again, as we push this through, and if it does pass,
we can always do amendments over the years to try to help make it a little better because the first time around, as you well know, nothing's perfect."
Listen to Tuberville's full interview with Ryan below, and stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on his proposed legislation as they become available.