Story at a glance
- New draft legislation would expand the rights of collegiate student-athletes regarding endorsement opportunities and health and safety procedures.
- Legislators want Congressional oversight into the NCAA’s creation of better rights for student-athlete.
On Thursday, a group of U.S. Senators released a draft of new potential legislation that would support college athletes’ health care options, education and earning potential while playing for their school’s team, USA Today reports.
Helmed by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the bill aims to expand the rights and opportunities for NCAA athletes, primarily through new “revenue-sharing agreements” that the legislation proposes will be made available to student-athletes between the NCAA, conferences and schools.
It would also change the rule forcing athletes to sit out a season if they change schools or withdraw following signing a National Letter of Intent. Also included is better financial support to encourage college athletes to complete their undergraduate degree with “lifetime” scholarships, as well as supporting graduate degree ambitions.
“We have to create a system that clearly the NCAA has not been willing to do on its own,” Booker told USA Today Sports. “We’re talking to a lot of athletes who have painful stories. These are courageous young people who right now are speaking out — and often facing retribution for speaking out — about their basic rights. I just really respect these athletes for showing such courage and commitment to the larger issues of equity and justice within college athletics.”
The legislation addresses the debate over paying NCAA student athletes for the usage of their name, image and likeness and allowing them to engage in endorsement deals or sponsorships.
Following increased pressure, the NCAA Board of Governors released a statement in late April supporting athletes being paid for the usage of their name, likeness and image.
“Throughout our efforts to enhance support for college athletes, the NCAA has relied upon considerable feedback from and the engagement of our members, including numerous student-athletes, from all three divisions,” Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State, said in the press release. “Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory.”
Notably, it said it would not allow colleges or universities to pay the student athletes. Any money earned by athletes will be earned through third-party endorsements both athletic and nonathletic.
Still, Booker and Blumenthal want Congress to oversee the development and implementation of these new rules to control for issues of inequality for athletes.
“This is an opportunity now for the federal government to act, for Congress to act, to make sure that there are certain basic rights that every athlete has, that will protect their health, protect their well-being, that will protect their achievement of an education, and address other issues of exploitation that continue.”
Additionally, the proposed legislation outlined specific COVID-19 related protections for athletes, including increased financial aid for medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses due to coronavirus-related injuries or illnesses. Federal lawmakers also want athletic departments to beef up their reporting and provide more detailed information regarding the program’s finances and the hours athletes devote to their sport, as well as the creation of a commission to give current and former athletes a voice in the NCAA.
This component follows Division 1 NCAA conferences like the Big 10 and PAC-12 canceling their upcoming fall 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns.