Mark Few testifies before Senate committee in favor of NIL rights

WASHINGTON D.C. – Gonzaga men’s basketball head coach Mark Few testified before the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday in support of Name, Image and Likeness Rights for college athletes. 

“We are at a critical juncture in college athletics,” Few told the committee. “The future of college sports is in jeopardy.” 

A group of senators, led by Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, have been discussing legislation that could govern athletic compensation. 

The debate over whether college athletes can use their name for endorsements and profit off those, has been going on for years. 

During his testimony, Few put it bluntly, saying “I’m in favor of them profiting as much as they can.” 

He said athletes are getting recruited to professional teams straight out of high school and are being drawn by the opportunity for six-figure salaries and endorsement deals. 

Few then spoke about the value of a college experience and made the argument that athletes should be able to have one, while also being able to profit off their own names and images. 

With that, though, Few said there needs to be parameters to protect the collegiate model. He said there must be national NIL laws. 

“Without these, the unintended consequences could be disastrous,” he said.

Few walked the committee through what Gonzaga has done to protect its student athletes, including providing access to mental health care, one-on-one nutrition coaching and offering coverage for health care costs for at least two years after their career ends.

He said he would like to see other universities do the same for their athletes, but said they should get help to do so from the NCAA.

“We need your help. This is not an issue the NCAA and individual schools can fix,” Few said.

Former student athletes have also been weighing in on this issue.  Alyssa Charlston played basketball at the University of Idaho from 2010-2014 and said the idea of amateurism is pressed into athletes at a young age.

“The fact that it’s being discussed that you can profit off of your image and your likeness it is such a turnaround and that’s why I’m really proud actually of this generation,” she said.