The United States Senate has formed a group focused on college athlete compensation.
The bipartisan group was announced Thursday by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), while presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) are also part of the group that will “facilitate ongoing discussions about student-athlete compensation and related issues.”
“Universities and colleges in Utah are grappling with potential changes related to compensating student athletes and so are schools across the nation,” Romney said in the press release. “It’s not fair for student athletes, especially those coming from low-income families, to give so much time and energy to their sport without any kind of compensation. We need to find a way to resolve this inequity while preserving the integrity of collegiate sports. This working group will serve as a forum for an ongoing bipartisan dialogue as we evaluate potential solutions.”
The compensation discussion began to ramp up in September, when California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the state’s Fair Pay to Play Act (SB 206) that will allow student athletes to earn money from their name, image or likeness, beginning in 2023. The NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously in October to consider updates to the policies regarding how athletes can be compensated.
“College athletes are being used as commodities to make money for the NCAA, colleges and corporations, while not being compensated for the work they do, nor given the appropriate health care and academic opportunities they deserve,” said Murphy, who released a report in March detailing how much money the NCAA and its universities make. “That’s plain wrong. The majority of executives and coaches who are getting rich off college athletics are white, while the majority of players at the big time sports programs are black. This is a civil rights issue and I’m glad to launch this bipartisan working group to fix the inequities in this broken system.”
Booker brings personal experience to the table, as he played Division I football at Stanford.
“So much of my life was shaped by football, and I know how hard it is to balance the demands of education and athletics, especially for student-athletes for whom an athletic scholarship is the only way they can finance their education,” Booker said in the release. “Student-athletes – especially black athletes, who are disproportionately represented in revenue-generating sports – are a massive source of revenue for colleges and media companies, yet they aren’t allowed to share in the enormous value they create. And these injustices perpetuate longer after students’ playing days are over in the form of student debt and a life time of injuries. This system is deeply unfair and unjust – it needs to change. I’m excited to join this working group to help identify solutions to end this exploitation of college athletes.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a brief statement on the working group, acknowledging the organization's need for help from federal lawmakers.
NCAA statement on Senate working group: pic.twitter.com/h8mdrSLGC4— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) December 5, 2019