Senator Predicts Many Will Follow In Nick Saban’s Footsteps
In an exclusive column he penned for OutKick this week, Senator Tommy Tuberville — former five-time National College Football Coach of the Year — issued a dire warning for the future of college football and college sports if Congress does not take action related to the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy that the NCAA instituted in 2021 following the landmark Supreme Court ruling in NCAA v. Alston.
Citing the recent retirement of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, he predicted that many more college coaches would follow in Saban’s footsteps if Congress does not act to establish nationwide rules for athletes being compensated through NIL. Currently, under the NCAA’s NIL policy, there is virtually no consistency across all 50 states that include 363 Division 1 NCAA member schools.
Tuberville even cited Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, who recently stated, “The game has changed so much that it chased the GOAT away.”
College Sports Have Turned Into The Wild West
Tuberville noted that, at present, 39 states have passed conflicting laws regarding college athlete reimbursement, creating not just an uneven playing field, but one that more closely resembles a fallen stack of Jenga blocks. The result is that schools in states with more lenient laws about reimbursement have a clear (and unfair) competitive advantage over schools in states that have stricter regulations in place.
In Tuberville’s opinion, this creates an impossible situation for many coaches, as bidding wars for future college athletes are starting earlier and earlier in a child’s life. The limitless access to the transfer portal for players (including accessing the portal at least once without having to provide any reason) also is detrimental to the team aspect of most college sports. Tuberville noted that, without Congressional action, one or a few states will effectively dictate the rules to all other states.
The PASS Act: A Proposed Congressional Solution
Tuberville went on to discuss his Protecting Athletes, Schools, and Sports (PASS) Act, which he has developed over several years with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. The PASS Act, Tuberville stated, would create a single national standard for NIL in college athletics and a uniform contract for all players. Other features of the PASS Act include requiring schools to honor their scholarships to players regardless of any NIL deals, requiring student-athletes to commit to a school for three years before entering the transfer portal, and ensuring health insurance for athletes for up to eight years following their college playing careers.
The desired result of the PASS Act would be maintaining a competitive balance among schools, creating transparency, protecting student-athletes, and providing the aforementioned level playing field.
A Bill To Save College Sports That Could Pass
Tuberville admitted in his column that PASS is not his “dream” solution, but it does establish some basic uniform rules and policies across the country, which is a good starting point. He noted that he and Manchin consulted with many athletic directors and coaches — including Saban — in drafting the legislation.
In true Washington, D.C., fashion, he also mentioned that PASS is the one bill most likely to get through Congress because of its bipartisan development. While more extreme regulations — on both ends of the athlete compensation spectrum — have been offered, Tuberville concluded that PASS is the one with the best shot at saving college sports and keeping many coaches from retiring in frustration due to the current lack of standard laws and policies.
“College athletics is one of the last great institutions in this country,” Tuberville concluded. “It teaches our young people priceless life lessons like discipline, teamwork, and commitment. But right now it is in danger. We’ve already lost the greatest coach in college history in part because of this. I dread to see what will happen next.”