The college sports industry is must-see TV for millions of fans across

the country and generates billions in revenue every year. That money accrues

to coaches, universities, conferences, and the National Collegiate Athletic

Association (NCAA), which orchestrates it all. Until recently, however, not

one cent went to the players, outside of an academic scholarship that did not

exceed the cost of their schooling. Commentators have long called for the

NCAA to reform its student-athlete compensation restrictions. After decades

of inaction by the NCAA, California passed SB-206 in September of 2019

to allow its student-athletes to receive compensation from third parties for

commercial use of their names, images, and likenesses (NIL). Several other

states soon followed, and as a result, on July 1, 2021, the NCAA ceased enforcing

the NIL compensation restrictions in its bylaws. Unfortunately for

the NCAA, its bylaws cannot override state law. States may continue to experiment

if they wish to convey benefits to student-athletes above and beyond

those granted by California’s law or any subsequent NCAA rule


Until Congress passes federal legislation, the NCAA’s game plan may

be a Dormant Commerce Clause (DCC) challenge to state compensation regimes.

This Article is the first piece of legal scholarship to survey the landscape

of state student-athlete compensation legislation and apply the

Dormant Commerce Clause to the student-athlete compensation issue. This

Article concludes the state student-athlete NIL regulation violates the extraterritoriality

principle of the Dormant Commerce Clause because—unlike

state internet regulation, for example—it regulates the NCAA’s conduct

wholly outside the state’s borders. The NCAA is a nationwide natural monopoly

ripe for federal, not state, regulation. Accordingly, Congress should

step up to the plate and provide student-athletes the opportunity to earn the

compensation they rightfully deserve while preserving uniform rules among

competitors, which are essential to the existence of any sports league.

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