Former presidential candidate Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is generally supportive of changing NCAA policy to allow collegiate athletes to benefit from their own name, image and likeness (NIL).
However, Romney issued a word of caution when implementing any changes on Wednesday on ESPN‘s Outside the Lines.
“What you can’t have is a couple athletes on campus driving around a Ferrari when everybody else is basically having a hard time making ends meet,” Romney emphasized. “And you can’t have a setting where some schools in major markets or have big-sport followings, some schools are like the honey pot, and all the great athletes want to go to all the great schools, then you kill collegiate sports.”
On Tuesday, the NCAA’s Board of Governors did say that there could be a way for collegiate athletes to start to be compensated for their own name, image, and likeness.
Romney quipped that if the NCAA does not move forward on the proposal, then Congress could be expected to act.
“I think we recognize that this is not fair to have these athletes give the kind of time they give to their sport and not receive any type of compensation or iteration, particularly in a time where they come from poor families in many cases,” he said.
And it is for that very reason that the senator wants to ensure some sort of parity across all athletes if any changes are to be implemented.
“I don’t think you can have an athlete at a school making a million dollars at that school and lording it over everyone else on the team and at the campus,” he said. “That’s what they’re going to get when they go pro. When they’re at school, they’re still a student-athlete and there has to be some limit to how much money is coming to an individual and there has to be a way to get compensation to other members of the team. I mean, that left tackle also needs to have some capacity to have some funds to make ends meet and to help their family, particularly when they come from such an impoverished background as so many do.”