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Sen. Cruz: We Can Come Together To Preserve College Sports

In opening remarks at NIL Roundtable, Cruz discusses challenges facing college athletics


WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his opening statement at today’s roundtable discussion regarding the urgent need for Congress to find consensus and pass bipartisan legislation to codify name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights for student-athletes, Sen. Cruz highlighted the myriad of challenges facing college athletics including the uncertainty from pending litigation, inconsistent state laws, questions regarding athlete employment status, and the colleges’ inability to collectively impose standards of ethical behavior and sportsmanship.

The entire event is available via livestream HERE.

The roundtable discussion will feature former University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Jim Phillips, women’s basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder, University of Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, president of The Collective Association Russell White, and NIL attorney Darren Heitner. Additional senators are expected to attend.

Here are Sen. Cruz’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“College sports are an amazing cultural unifier. When so many other issues divide us, we know on gameday that we can all come together and cheer for our teams no matter the sports.

“College sports also give thousands of student-athletes, including for many first-generation college students, an education and the ability to develop critical life skills. NIL only provides even greater opportunities.  


“Unfortunately, college sports are at a critical legal crossroads right now with significant challenges, including:  

  • Contradictory state NIL laws that make compliance difficult, 
  • Active litigation that prevents the NCAA, conferences, and universities from enforcing basic rules – even rules intended to protect athletes from being taken advantage of, 
  • Uncertainty for student-athletes, agents, and collectives who are seeking to navigate evolving and the application of often seemingly inconsistent rules,  
  • The looming challenges associated with athlete employment status or unionization. 


“I am concerned that unless Congress acts, the college sports system will collapse and those opportunities for student-athletes, particularly those in small- and mid-sized schools and women’s and Olympic sports, will be lost.  


“As the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over sports related policy, I’ve been working for some time with my colleagues on finding a path forward on legislation that addresses these outstanding legal issues while preserving what’s best about college sports.   


“We are here today to have an important discussion on today’s challenges and hopefully generate consensus and momentum for a bipartisan deal that we can put on the President’s desk, but no bill is going to be signed into law unless it’s bipartisan. I’m pleased to be joined by several of my colleagues today on both sides of the aisle who I’ve begun negotiations on a bipartisan path forward.  


“Today, I hope we can have a more detailed and robust dialogue together in which we can discuss the current issues facing collegiate athletics and thus inform my and my colleague’s legislative work so we can come together to preserve college sports as we know it.

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