In hopes of protecting current and future college athletes, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, alongside Sen. Cory Booker, proposed a college athletes bill of rights on Thursday.
The proposal would guarantee fair and equitable compensation, enforceable safety standards and improved educational opportunities for all college athletes.
In a $15 billion dollar industry, the bill would allow players to market their name, image and likeness (NIL), as a group or individual.
“The NCAA’s priority should be the success, safety and well-being of student athletes at colleges and universities across the nation. Unfortunately, decades of history prove that has rarely been the case. While the organization rakes in billions of dollars off the backs of their athletes, the students are expected to be content with crumbs in comparison,” Wyden said. “These young athletes shouldn’t be forced to choose between the sport they love and their health, education or financial security. This new college student athletes bill of rights is a step towards ensuring safety, opportunity and accountability in college athletics.”
From the proposal, written by Senators Wyden and Booker.
Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Kirsten Gillibrand, , Mazie Hirono, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders,, Chris Van Hollen and Brian Schatzall backed the bill.
The bill tackles aggressively enforcing evidence-based health care to ensure that athletes are not pushed past the point of no return.
According to the bill, since 2000, more than 30 college football players have died from heat-related illnesses due to workouts that went too far.
Critics have argued for years that the NCAA has repeatedly overlooked and failed to report athlete concussions, treating the concussion guidelines more as a suggestion.
The bill requires a more cohesive diagnosis and reporting system.
According to NCAA.org, the overall injury rate in collegiate football is 8.1 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures, which includes games and practices. Between 2004 and 2009, there were more than 41,000 injuries and 25 million athlete exposures.
More current numbers are difficult to discern due to rampant misreporting, as noted in the bill.
Currently within the NCAA, there is no universal health care coverage across athletic programs or any consistent commitment to help with injuries that carry life-long consequences.
Injured athletes may have to deal with out of pocket expenses that they cannot afford to recover from. The bill aims to help eliminate future financial burden students may experience during recovery.
Improved education opportunities within college athletics were also considered during the proposal of this bill.
Fewer than six in 10 entering college freshman students graduate in four years, the bill states.
The bill also calls for schools to provide more detailed annual public reporting that describes total sources of revenues and expenditures, including compensation for athletic department personnel and booster donations.
Formal legislation unveiled today will be formally introduced in the senate in the coming months.