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Local universities balked yesterday at a proposed College Athletes Bill of Rights, which they said would force them to pay for lifelong health insurance for players injured during games.
Representatives from the area's Division 1 schools said the proposal would put them at a competitive disadvantage on the field and burden already money-losing athletic departments.
'It is our position that the proposed ordinance, though well-meaning, calls for many rights that already are provided for or protected under existing NCAA legislation,' Northeastern University said in a statement. 'It also is our position that the bill of rights relies on conclusions - particularly around revenue generation, 40-hour-per-week athletic participation demands, historically low graduation rates and the ability to revoke athletic scholarships at the leisure of the sponsoring athletic program - that are not consistent with existing NCAA legislation and are not supported by current data.'
The College Athletes Bill of Rights proposed by Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim would require schools in the city to cover an athlete's medical expenses for any sport-related injury for the rest of the player's life.
'I believe this to be a civil rights issue,' Zakim told the Herald. 'Boston has the ability to be a leader on this.'
Under his proposal, scholarships could be taken away only for academic or disciplinary reasons.
'There's an awful lot of chances of injury that would mitigate the ability to graduate if a scholarship were taken away on the basis of that injury,' said Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Northeastern's Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
A separate bill Zakim introduced would create a head-injury protocol that would prevent players from returning to games after sustaining a concussion or becoming unconscious.
School representatives said they're in favor of protecting students but questioned whether the city should be the one to regulate them.Zakim's proposal now goes to working sessions to hammer out the language with the hope of a vote later this year.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.