Organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) want Congress to come up with national rules for how and when college athletes get paid.
The questions posed to a Senate subcommittee Tuesday included whether players should be paid to play and whether they should be able to profit off their fame, which could include endorsement deals or monetizing Instagram followers.
The concern is that all 50 states could end up having different rules since dozens of states are already considering legislative changes.
College sports are a $14 billion a year industry.
"College athletes shouldn't be forced to sacrifice their economic freedom and rights,” said Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association.
California has already passed a law that goes into effect in 2023 – which will allow student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness known as their NIL.
More than 20 other states are also considering their own legislation.
Former college athletes warned against allowing a patchwork of different laws to continue.
"It looks like a 17-year-old high school student athlete choosing between two institutions not because of the educational value but rather because of which state has the fewest restrictions on the financial benefit,” Kendall Spencer, Chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for the NCAA, said.
While witnesses testified to lawmakers about a need to make a national change, there was also a push for cautious oversight.
"Without proper guardrails and structure, some NIL proposals threaten to undermine core values of college sports by allowing payments for NIL to serve as pay for play and potentially turning college athletes into employees,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.
© 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group