Cantwell at College Athletics Hearing: “This is the Time to Make Progress”

Gonzaga Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Mark Few, testified at today’s Committee hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), held a hearing on NCAA Athlete Name Image and Likeness (NIL) Rights. At the hearing, Cantwell, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, called for action to provide more rights and protections for student-athletes at today’s hearing about college athletics.

“So it is our hope today that this hearing will bring focus and attention to how to resolve the issues that would allow us to grant these important rights to students,” Cantwell said. “And also make sure that we are taking care of our students on important issues like scholarship, health care, transferability, obviously making sure that women are treated equally within the sports arena.”

Mark Few, Head Coach of the Gonzaga University Men’s Basketball Team, testified at today’s hearing.

“State NIL laws go into effect in less than a month, and only action here by Congress can maintain the level playing field. A consistent national law is critical because inconsistent state laws could permit institutions to directly enter the NIL market leading to improper inducements and resulting in a recruiting advantage,” Few said.

Cantwell previously introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) guaranteeing equal pay for athletes competing under the American flag at the Olympics or World Cup.

“It's so important for us to listen to the voices that have made so many of these points clear,” Cantwell said. “Dallas Hobbs, a football player at Washington State University, called attention to inadequate COVID protections and formed a unity group with Pac-12 players. We also have heard from Sedona Prince, a college basketball player from the University of Oregon, who shined a spotlight on a persistent gender divide in college sports when she posted a video that literally compared her workout room to the workout room of male athletes during the Final Four tournament, so we can do better.”

During the Q&A portion of today’s hearing, Cantwell asked Dr. Wayne Frederick of Howard University about the issue of health standards and student-athlete safety.

“I want to ask Dr. Frederick, because this issue of heat impacts and horrific news of actual deaths from this,” Cantwell said. “Why can't we just get better health standards to cover the NCAA institutions to set a standard for what health could be, even if it's done here at a federal level, that guidance that must be followed by institutions?”

“You know, I think this is an important point and especially when you look around heat related issues and concussions in particular,” Dr. Frederick responded. “We have to have standards around where the athletes compete. Once again, I think some of the issues here are around education and resources. We must insist that the number of trainers that are out there with the athletes, and someone monitoring the conditions for the individual athletes are part of what is taking place.”

Cantwell has been a leading advocate for the equal treatment of women athletes. In 2020, Cantwell introduced a bipartisan resolution honoring the achievements of women athletes and calling for equal treatment and pay and has repeatedly highlighted gender disparities faced by women athletes competing in official NCAA tournaments.

Video of Chair Cantwell’s opening is available HERE.

Video of Chair Cantwell’s Q&A with witnesses is available HERE and audio is HERE.

A transcript of Cantwell’s full remarks is available HERE.