Amid ongoing deliberations over whether college athletes should be paid, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and a group of fellow Democratic senators on Thursday are introducing legislation that would radically revise how student-athletes participating in major-college sports programs throughout the country are compensated and treated, both during and after their time on campus.
One of the most notable changes in the 61-page piece of legislation would be athletes receiving money directly based on the revenue surpluses they help produce.
In sports (primarily football and basketball) that generate more revenue than the total amount of money spent on scholarships, those athletes would be entitled to a 50% share of the funds remaining after scholarships are financed.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services would create standards of care related to medical care, and schools would be required to contribute annually to a trust fund aimed at covering the costs of such care (during their college career and for five years after it ends).
Colleges and universities would be obligated to continue paying for an athlete’s scholarship “for as many years as it takes them to receive an undergraduate degree,” as long as the athlete maintains a GPA of 2.2 or higher.
Restrictions that prevent athletes from transferring to other schools would be removed.
In addition to Booker, the bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“This is one of the few industries in America that is allowed to exploit those who are responsible for generating most of the revenue,” Booker told ESPN. “I feel like the federal government has a role and responsibility that we’ve been shirking in terms of protecting athletes and ensuring their safety. I just really believe there is an urgency here that has not been met for decades and decades.”
Last December, National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert said it was “highly probable” that federal legislation would be passed that alters how college athletes can be compensated. According to ESPN, the legislation introduced by Booker and company on Thursday is one of six proposals from members of Congress aimed at amending the business model in college sports. The NCAA board of governors is scheduled to vote in January on whether to change its rules to allow athletes to be compensated for the use of their names, images and likenesses. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to review a court decision in an antitrust lawsuit the NCAA has said blurred “the line between student-athletes and professionals.” The NCAA filed the appeal in May. “We are pleased the U.S. Supreme Court will review the NCAA’s right to provide student-athletes with the educational benefits they need to succeed in school and beyond,” Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.
In September, a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that less than 7% of the revenue generated by the NCAA finds its way to football and men’s basketball players through scholarships and living stipends. The study estimates that if men’s basketball and football players in the most prestigious conferences split 50% of revenue equally, each football player would receive $360,000 per year. Each basketball player would earn nearly $500,000 annually.
What To Watch For:
Sen. Booker said he thinks Congress can pass a law related to college sports reformation in the “first half of 2021.” Sen. Blumenthal noted that passage of such legislation might depend on which party controls the Senate (which will be determined by the runoff races to be held in Georgia on January 5.)
$8.5 billion. That’s the annual revenue for the top NCAA Division 1 schools, with 58% percent of that revenue coming directly from men’s football and men’s basketball programs, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
NCAA Athletes Could Make $2 Million A Year If Paid Equitably, Study Suggests (Forbes)
Congressional proposal would overhaul college sports, require revenue sharing, cover athletes’ medical costs (ESPN)