Senator Nancy Skinner Advocates for Equity and Athlete Empowerment in NIL

In today's episode, we talked with California Senator about her important legislation which allowed college athletes in California the right to earn off their name, image, and likeness. Senator Nancy Skinner also talked about NIL collectives, women in NIL, and what the future of NIL might look like.

Senator Skinner's NIL Inspiration

: What made you think that players at the college level should make a salary?

Senator Nancy Skinner: …When I went to college at UC Berkeley, Harry Edwards, the sociology professor who led the Black boycott at the in Mexico City, talked a lot about the exploitation of Black athletes…Over time, once I became a legislator…I began thinking broader and I thought that the athletes deserve to have some share of this pie.

University Pushback

Rick Dempsey: You must have gotten a lot of pushback from all the universities that were having to have to deal with your idea.

Nancy Skinner: …They all said that this bill was going to die and I told them that I thought this bill was more popular than they thought…I was blown away that this bill got bipartisan support, we never received a “no” vote.

NIL Collectives

: What is the downside to [NIL Collectives]?

Nancy Skinner: I was very acutely aware that women athletes really got short-changed. They are much less likely to get a scholarship, they don't get the same playing time, they don't get the gym space, and they don't get the locker room space…Now, with the formation of these collectives, it looks like women are not getting the same benefit.

Women in NIL

Kelley Kleinman: This legislature gives hard-working women to market their brand.

Nancy Skinner: Katelyn Ohashi was that brilliant gymnast at UCLA. She had a million YouTube viewers but didn't have NIL rights. Katelyn Ohashi is a poet. Katelyn Ohashi wanted her NIL rights to be able to publish her poetry. She put in a request to monetize her poetry, and they denied her because that was her name, image, and likeness. You could be an athlete, poet, rapper, or a DJ, and you still couldn't have used your NIL rights. Women are now able to do whatever they want to make money on whatever their skillset is in addition to their athletics, and that is a very important and key point.

NIL and the Transfer Portal

Rick Dempsey: How has the NIL legislation affected the ?

Nancy Skinner: We knew that boosters always had a big role in this multibillion-dollar college sports empire. Now, they are doing it through these collectives…Is it fair? No. But, was it fair before? No. I think all the athletes should be able to have [collective bargaining agreements], but we are obviously not there yet.

Athletes and Labor Unions

Kelly Kleinman: Can you see athlete-driven labor unions being organized at each school?

Nancy Skinner: …The whole purpose of the from the jump was to prevent athletes from being considered labor and being considered workers and having any worker's rights.

The Wild World of NIL

Rick Dempsey: Was the spirit of the NIL legislation to become a 100% free market system?

Nancy Skinner: …Now, you've got athletes who are as high schoolers and even eighth graders monetizing with their NIL and deciding to continue in that direction. So, yes, it is a free-for-all, but…It's free enterprise, right?

Student-Athletes as Employees

Rick Dempsey: Is [student-athletes as employees] where [college athletics] is heading?

Nancy Skinner: These students are producing value for their colleges and many other people. So, why shouldn't they be paid? I had made it clear when I got elected to the Senate that I wanted to address this issue…I don't have a fundamental problem at all with student-athletes having collective bargaining rights and being compensated for their work.

The Future of NIL

Kelly Kleinman: What is the next stage for NIL?

Nancy Skinner: …There has been discussion that there will be some kind of national laws that can create more of a level playing field. If national legislation puts the interest of the students first then I am all for it. What I am afraid of, is that…there is so much money in this business ecosystem that I always worry about when legislation is on a national level, who it is going to benefit. I like what Dartmouth is doing, I would like to see how it might work and what tweaks we would have to make.

Image Credit: Senator Nancy Skinner

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