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Landmark College Athletes Bill of Rights to be introduced in Congress

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

Just a day after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that challenges the limits on college athlete compensation, four Democratic lawmakers are introducing a bill that would change college athletics forever.

The College Athletes Bill of Rights, written by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and introduced on Thursday by Booker, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Conn., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Ill., is a landmark piece of legislation that seeks to grant collegiate athletes numerous rights. While most recent college athlete bills have been focused on granting them the rights to profit off their name, image, and likeness, Booker’s bill goes way beyond that.

Revenue sharing, medical trust fund, and more

Booker’s bill covers a lot of ground, granting college athletes rights that the NCAA has long denied them and protecting them at a governmental level.

  • Revenue sharing: The bill grants name, image, and likeness rights to athletes, and requires schools to share 50 percent the profit from revenue-generating sports with athletes. All schools would also be required to disclose the finances of their athletic departments. Not just revenue and expenditures, but the salaries of all department personnel.

  • Scholarships: College athletes would be required to receive a scholarship for however long it takes them to complete their undergraduate degree, and bans administrators or coaches from influencing their choice of major, and from retaliating against them if the choice is something they don’t approve of.

  • Transfer freedom: All restrictions on transfer athletes would be removed, as would the penalties for breaking a national letter of intent.

  • Medical costs: A medical trust fund would be set up that covers out-of-pocket costs for college athletes while they’re in school, and could be accessed up to five years after graduation to cover costs of sport-related injuries.

  • Health and safety standards: At the governmental level, it would create “enforceable” health and safety standards through Departments of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a special focus on traumatic brain injuries and sexual assault.

Bill could be headache for NCAA

The NCAA isn’t against federal legislation of this kind — in fact, they’re in favor of it. With several states passing their own name, image, and likeness bills, federal legislation is the only thing that would prevent the NCAA from having to navigate and comply with the laws in each state, which all differ from each other.

But Booker’s bill is essentially the opposite of what the NCAA wants. They’ve been focused on federal legislation on name, image, and likeness rights,and that’s about it. Revenue sharing, financial disclosure, and governmental standards are definitely not on their to-do list.

There is already expected to be a fight over this bill, likely on party lines. Meanwhile, Congress is scheduled to vote on a different name, image, and likeness bill in January, and the NCAA is rushing to pass its own legislation so there’s a framework for whatever Congress passes — if it passes anything.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - MARCH 06: A NCAA logo is seen on the wall as Yeshiva players warmup prior to playing against Worcester Polytechnic Institute during the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship - First Round at Goldfarb Gymnasium on at Johns Hopkins University on March 6, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that Maryland had confirmed three cases of residents with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, prompting Johns Hopkins officials to host the NCAA men's basketball tournament without spectators. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
A new bill seeks to grant college athletes numerous rights. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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