U.S. Senators Propose Plan for Compensation of College Athletes

A group of Democratic senators led by New Jersey’s Cory Booker is pushing for a “College Athletes Bill of Rights” to allow compensation and health-care coverage for the players who power a $16 billion industry.

Booker, who played tight end at Stanford University, announced the proposal on Thursday, which he said will advance “justice and opportunity.” The plan will allow personal endorsement deals, provide health-care coverage for injuries for at least a decade and give athletes more of a voice in the governance of college sports.

The proposal comes just weeks after players in conferences including the Pac-12 established a unity movement that sought to voice their concerns over issues ranging from health and safety to equitable compensation. The bill of rights, which will be drafted into formal legislation in the coming months, is backed by fellow Democratic senators including Kamala Harris and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, but will face an uphill battle to pass in the Republican-led chamber.

Traditionally, college athletes have been barred from receiving direct compensation or from marketing their name or likeness, even as their performances help generate billions of dollars in revenue for hundreds of high-profile schools. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has come under growing pressure to ease restrictions, and in April announced that it would back a rule allowing athletes to profit from their name and likeness as long as universities didn’t pay them directly.

Booker has been among the most outspoken critics in Washington of the NCAA. During a Senate hearing last month, he chided the governing body for acting like a “cartel” and being “plainly hypocritical” on athlete compensation.

“The NCAA has failed generations of young men and women even when it comes to their most basic responsibility -- keeping the athletes under their charge healthy and safe,” he said. “The time has come for change. We have an opportunity to do now what should have been done decades ago -- to step in and provide true justice and opportunity for college athletes across the country.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.