Sen. Cory Booker wants federal government to play much larger role in college sports

Some U.S. senators are proposing a “college athletes bill of rights,” which would place college sports at the mercy of a federal committee armed with $100 million taxpayer dollars.

The bill would introduce extensive regulations over college sports, including mandates about students’ rights to their names and images.

Members of the U.S. Senate proposed a “college athletes bill of rights,” which would have placed college sports at the mercy of a federal committee.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) — alongside Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) — unveiled the legislation in December. It’s unclear whether the senators will introduce similar legislation in the current Congress. If they do, it could more easily sail through Congress given that Democrats now control the Senate. 

“Under its current operation, the NCAA is preventing college athletes from earning any meaningful compensation and failing to keep the athletes under its charge healthy and safe, and that needs to change,” said Sen. Booker in a December statement. “The College Athletes Bill of Rights will set a new baseline standard to expand protections and opportunities for all college athletes by providing fair and equitable compensation, ensure comprehensive health and safety standards, and improve education outcomes for college athletes.”

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The bill would have allowed college athletes to market their name, image, and likeness with minimal restrictions, while compelling “revenue-generating sports to share 50 percent of their profit with the athletes from that sport after accounting for the cost of scholarships.”

The legislation called for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to join the Department of Health and Human Services in working with the NCAA and Sports Science Institution to create standards with respect to concussions, sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and other matters within collegiate sports leagues.

The legislation would mandate that college athletes retain their scholarships “for as many years as it takes for them to receive an undergraduate degree.”

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The bill would have established a nine-member “Commission on College Athletics,” with its members being appointed by the President of the United States to “protect the economic interests of college athletes.” Its actions would have been “construed as an enforcement action carried out by the Federal Government,” according to the bill. 

The bill allocated $100 million to the Commission over the course of two fiscal years.

Thomas Pietrykoski, a spokesman for Sen. Booker, told Campus Reform that the $100 million would be used for office space, staff hiring, and operational expenses. Afterward, “fines and penalties collected by the Commission would pay for its operations.”

Campus Reform reached out to Gillibrand, and Schatz for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft