As the student-athletes of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame compete to be the winner of the college football playoffs, the drive to have them financial compensated continues in Washington.
Sen. Cory Booker was joined by Democratic colleagues Connecticut’s Sen. Richard Blumenthal, New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Hawaii’s Sen. Brian Schatz in recently unveiling a College Athletes Bill of Rights.
“College athletes deserve better, they deserve justice, and they deserve to share in what they help create,” stated Booker in a press statement.
The College Athletes Bill of Rights was designed to guarantee fair and equitable compensation for college athletes, in addition to enforceable health and safety standards.
Protections Under the Bill
“The College Athletes Bill of Rights will set a new baseline standard to expand protections and opportunities for all college athletes by providing fair and equitable compensation, ensure comprehensive health and safety standards, and improve education outcomes for college athletes,” said Booker.
The bill would focus on:
- Ensuring fair and equitable compensation;
- Developing enforceable evidence-based health, safety, and wellness standards;
- Improving educational outcomes and opportunities;
- Establishing a Medical Trust fund;
- Increasing accountability across college sports;
- Providing freedom for college athletes to attend the institution of their choice;
- Establishing the Commission on College Athletics.
A companion bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN).
The legislation is endorsed by a diverse coalition including the United Steelworkers, the National College Players Association, Color of Change, the Sports Fans Coalition, and the University of Baltimore’s Director for the Center of Sports and Law.
“NCAA sports is a predatory industry that exploits college athletes physically, economically, and academically,” said Tom Conway, United Steelworkers (USW) International President. “The USW stands in solidarity with these athletes in their quest for fairness.”
Color Of Change vice president Arisha Hatch added, “Passing this legislation will help move the needle in the effort to address structural racism in collegiate sports, as Black student-athletes make up the vast majority of players in the highest-revenue sports of football and basketball.”
Booker noted the issue was a personal one for him, as he was a high school All-American at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan and Division 1 football player at Stanford University.
A Personal Connection for Booker
“I know firsthand that college sports can open doors of opportunity that most young people never knew existed—but the unfortunate reality is that the NCAA is also exploiting college athletes for financial gain, and disproportionately exploiting Black athletes who are over-represented in the revenue generating sports,” said Booker.
The Bill of Rights follows prior legislation Booker advanced with Blumenthal to stop the use of legally dubious COVID-19 liability waivers in college sports.
“This bill is undoubtedly a big swing, a sweeping, comprehensive overhaul of a system that is badly broken and exploitive of the college athletes who are stuck in it,” said Blumenthal. “But every single provision is doable and based on the fundamental principle of fairness—from the health care trust fund, which recognizes the long-term impacts of sports injuries, to reforms that will allow athletes to actually share in the profits from their own talents. Very importantly, this bill has real teeth—tough enforcement by a Commission with subpoena power and state Attorneys General.”