Senate Democrats Propose College Athletes Bill of Rights


On August 13, 2020, Senate Democrats announced the framework for a College Athletes’ Bill of Rights seeking to “guarantee fair and equitable compensation, enforceable safety standards, and improved educational opportunities for all college athletes.”  This landmark proposal confronts unjust policies enacted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) restricting college athletes from receiving compensation for their labor or advocating for stronger health and safety standards. 

The College Athletes Bill of Rights aims to empower athletes to: (i) create revenue-sharing agreements with the NCAA, college sports conferences, and their schools; (ii) market their names, images, and likenesses for third-party endorsement and sponsorship deals; (iii) push colleges and universities to implement “evidence-based health, safety and wellness standards;” (iv) transfer from one school to another absent any penalties or restrictions; and (v) utilize lifetime academic scholarships and comprehensive health care coverage for sports-related injuries. 

One of the proposal’s authors, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, summed up the need for the College Athletes Bill of Rights, saying “it is ludicrous that the NCAA makes more than $1 billion a year off of college athletes, but will not allow these players to be paid.”  Senator Sanders continued, “in the midst of this pandemic, these athletes must have a seat at the table when their health and safety is on the line.  These athletes are workers.  It is long past time they be treated like it.  That means safe working conditions, health care, collective bargaining rights, and fair wages for their labor.”  While presently a policy proposal, Democratic Senators have indicated that they will introduce legislation comparable to the College Athletes Bill of Rights this fall if the NCAA fails to unilaterally adopt its proposals.
 

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