A group of Senators has announced their plan to move forward with a proposal of the ‘College Athletes Bill of Rights.’ The bill will serve to provide college athletes within the NCAA athletes certain monetary, healthcare, and eligibility rights.
Among those leading the charge for the proposed reform to college sports is former NCAA athlete and current US senator, Cory Booker. Booker played football at Stanford University in the 90s and went on to begin his political career, serving as mayor of Newark from 2006-2013. He has represented New Jersey in the US Senate since 2013.
Booker shared his thoughts on the NCAA’s handling of college athletes in a tweet earlier today;
The NCAA has failed generations of young men & women even when it comes to their most basic responsibility—keeping athletes healthy & safe. Our college athletes bill of rights—legislation I'll formally unveil in the coming months—will change that. https://t.co/fdCBVKyetv
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) August 13, 2020
Booker went on to say that “For them (referring to the NCAA) to get the cooperation from us, they’re going to have to change some of their practices.” “The NCAA feels urgency and needs to get federal cooperation. I’m going to make sure that we also are able to change NCAA practices that undermine the students’ education, well-being, and basic first amendment rights.”
The bill will call the NCAA to afford additional amounts of freedom to athletes that would be mandated by the recently legalized name-image-likeness (NIL) bill. In June 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed that bill into law meaning that come July 1, 2021, student-athletes in the state will be allowed to get paid for business ventures such as social media, personal businesses, and personal appearances, provided they fall under a set of guiding principles established by the board. Florida was the third state to sign this bill, following California and Colorado, where it will take effect on January 1, 2023.
For its part, the commissioners of the ‘Power 5’ conferences have asked for legislation on the matter, in part to make sure that there are standardized rules nationally, and in part to shield them from lawsuits.
During the process to establish the new NIL laws, maybe prominent figures in the US politics and college athletics landscapes spoke out against the updates. Among those was Republican Senator from North Carolina Richard Burr who spoke out against the bill saying “If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to “cash in” to income taxes.”
Echoing Burr’s dismay with the bill, NCAA president Mark Emmert was also very vocal about his opposition. Emmert suggested that the bill is “just a new form of professionalism and a different way of converting students into employees. (They may be) paid in a fashion different than a paycheck, but that doesn’t make them not paid.” Many NCAA conferences including the Pac-12 which is home to sports powerhouses Stanford, USC, and UC Berkeley, opposed the bill.
In the first few hours since its announcement, there hasn’t yet brrn much public opposition to the newly announced ‘College Athletes Bill of Rights’ by Senators of either party, though Democratic Senators have been more vocal in their support of the bill.
While specifics of the bill have yet to be officially announced, the bill has already gained traction and support from many prominent figures in US politics including Senator Bernie Sanders and the presumptive Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris.
Sanders joined Booker by sharing his support in the form of a tweet;
College athletes are workers. It is long past time they be treated like it. That means fair wages, safe working conditions, health care, owning their name and image, and collective bargaining rights. https://t.co/yV14d1XMKX
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 13, 2020