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Mitt Romney says Congress will act on NCAA: 'We're coming for you'

Jack Baer
Yahoo Sports Contributor

As bills that would legalize NCAA player compensation pop up in state legislatures across the country, one prominent U.S. Senator is warning that the matter may soon become a federal issue.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said during a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill that the time has come for all NCAA athletes to be compensated for their efforts, according to The News & Observer.

“I know there are people who think we can hold this off,” Romney said. “We’re not going to make a change here. But the reality is Congress is going to act.

“We’re coming for you,” he said. “We’re coming to help these young athletes in the future, and the athletes of today, make sure that they don’t have to sacrifice their time and sacrifice, in many cases, their bodies without being fairly compensated.”

Hosting the discussion was Mark Walker, a Republican congressman representing North Carolina who introduced a bill in March that would allow NCAA athletes to make a profit for themselves off their name, imagery and likeness from third parties.

Also in attendance were House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady and college basketball commentator Jay Bilas, who has been a loud voice on the matter of player compensation for years. None of the attendees opposed giving more rights to college athletes.

Since the passing of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, similar bills have popped up in several states, including New York, Illinois, Florida and Pennsylvania.

The NCAA has strongly opposed such bills and threatened the athletic eligibility of California schools on the grounds that the state’s teams would have an unfair advantage. Other states passing similar bills wouldn’t do much to placate that, as each bill is potentially different in what it does and doesn’t allow. As NCAA president Mark Emmert put it, “50 different states with 50 different labor law rules” would be a massive problem for the organization.

The U.S. Congress stepping in with a law of its own could complicate that argument. Whatever bills end up passing and becoming law of the land, it’s clear that politicians are becoming increasingly eager to put pressure on the NCAA to finally stop forbidding players from making any money in a billion-dollar industry.

The NCAA's lack of player compensation is continuing to become a political issue. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

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