By Ken Reed

Led by senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a group of U.S. senators is working on comprehensive legislation that would help college athletes in numerous ways. They are calling the prospective legislation a college athletes bill of rights.

The senators outlined their bill in a statement released on Thursday. The bill would allow college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses (NILs), lead to ‘revenue-sharing agreements’ with the NCAA, conferences and schools, create new safety and wellness standards, enhance athlete health care, develop programs to improve educational outcomes, and would remove the NCAA requirement that athletes have to sit out a year if they change schools or withdraw from a National Letter of Intent.

“We have to create a system that clearly the NCAA has not been willing to do on its own,” said Booker, a former Stanford football player.

“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.”

The new initiative to create a college athletes Bill of Rights is being pushed by a committee of Democrat senators, including Chris Murphy of Conn. and V.P. nominee Kamala Harris of California. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is also part of the effort.

When completed, Booker and Blumenthal said the bill will call for a “permanent commission” — made up of current and former athletes, along with various other experts — “to give athletes a meaningful voice” in NCAA rules-making and policy matters.

“We can’t return to business as usual—where a multi-billion dollar industry lines the pockets of predominately white executives all while majority-Black athletes can’t profit from their labor,” said Murphy. … “This isn’t radical thinking — it’s just the right thing to do.”

It’s been the right thing to do for decades. Let’s hope that this time this group of senators can get it done.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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