Seismic shifts have occurred within the NCAA’s governing body regarding payment or compensation to athletes. Now Democratic Senators are looking at drafting a Bill of Rights so the athletes who spoke up about safety issues and social justice during the current pandemic have the right to protect themselves. They also want to make it easier for athletes to earn money.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey drafted the proposal. He has backing from 10 other Democratic senators, including presidential running mate Kamala Harris. Booker, who played football at Stanford, claims that the legislation would provide “fairness, equity and safety in college athletics, and holds colleges accountable to those standards.”
This legislation would attempt to clarify how athletes can earn money on their name, image and likeness by making it federal law rather than a patchwork of state laws with their own rules. But it is also in response to reports that some colleges required student-athletes to sign liability waivers when they returned to campus amid the pandemic to train and participate in team workouts. The legislation could also generate more comprehensive health care coverage for student-athletes.
Little to happen before the end of the year
The issue of college athletes earning money has had bipartisan support in recent months. But there is likely very little legislation that will pass before the national elections in November. Nevertheless, Booker and the other senators thought it was good to present the proposal to build support and gain feedback.
This legislation will likely become part of the conversation as conferences drop out (Big-10 and Pac-12) while others plan to compete in major sports like football this fall.