White House officials Wednesday hosted former college and NFL players for a discussion on the rights of student-athletes amid the ongoing debate over revenue and other benefits for players.
Andrew Luck, Desmond Howard, Ryan Clark and Rod Gilmore were among the former college and NFL stars who visited the White House for the meeting, a Biden administration official said.
President Biden also dropped by the meeting, which was not listed on the president’s public schedule.
The discussion was expected to focus on “why all student-athletes deserve consistent safety standards, to have voice, and to benefit from the revenue they produce,” the official said.
“The student-athletes who play college football work hard on behalf of their schools, their communities, and their families and President Biden believes all workers should be treated fairly and college athletes should be too,” the White House official said in a statement. “All college athletes deserve consistent safety standards, to have voice, and to benefit from the revenue they produce.”
White House officials who attended the meeting included National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard and Steve Benjamin, the director of the Office of Public Engagement.
The meeting marked a rare instance of the White House weighing in on the complex issues around college athletics and benefits for student-athletes, particularly when it comes to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals that allow players to benefit financially.
The Biden administration has always been unabashedly pro-union, and the meeting was expected to focus at least partly on efforts to organize among players.
While the NCAA lifted a ban on student-athletes being paid for promotions two years ago, there has been a complete lack of federal direction on the issue, leaving states to develop their own regulations.
Several senators have offered up potential solutions to address the current patchwork system surrounding NIL.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has proposed creating federal standards around NIL that would replace state laws.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a former college football player himself, introduced a bipartisan proposal earlier this year that would establish national NIL standards and provide medical care to injured athletes.
Updated at 4:12 p.m.