If there was one thing that suggests Trevor Lawrence, the dynamic Clemson quarterback, is set to make $ 173,000 this season. But what about the long snapper at Bowling Green? And it would raise a few eyebrows to say that University of Iowa basketball star Luke Garza was to receive $ 115,600. But what about the backup point guard in Portland state?
As the NCAA’s model of amateurism – which turned college sports into a billion dollar industry – was increasingly attacked in courtrooms and legislative rooms, Senator Cory Booker scored its most ambitious swing on Thursday. He presented a complex calculation with one provocative element: it would give every athlete a share of the profits in a handful of revenue-generating sports.
The proposal, dubbed the College Athletes Bill of Rights, would also include lifetime grants, government oversight of health and safety standards, public reporting of refreshment donations, unrestricted referrals, and the creation of a subpoena to ensure compliance.
The bill came not only from Booker’s experience as a former Stanford football player, but also from conversations he’d had with college players over the past few months that focused on the racial inequalities of an unpaid, mostly black workforce, millions for largely white coaches and administrators.
“This stratospheric wealth is being created,” said Booker, whose bill will be introduced at a cost of more than $ 21 million three days after Auburn’s decision to fire its soccer coach Gus Malzahn. “But the people – literally in the fields – who create this wealth see little or no part in it.”
Calling the issue social injustice – or, worse, a slave system – is nothing new to athletic activists. However, that description is becoming more timely at a time when institutions across the country are being scrutinized for systemic racism.
The coming year could mark a turning point for the NCAA, which on Wednesday convinced the Supreme Court to issue a lower court ruling that the organization is violating antitrust laws by limiting the educational services colleges could provide athletes. Five states have already passed laws (and more than 20 others have proposed bills) that would allow athletes to capitalize on their fame, and at least four more bills on the same issue have been introduced in Congress.
The fact that three bills – by Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, a former Ohio State beneficiary – have been tabled by Republicans is a sign that this issue may attract bipartisan attention.
Booker’s bill, co-sponsored by Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, has only received democratic support so far, with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky signed. But Booker said he found a sympathetic ear to Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the judiciary committee, who, along with the Wicker-chaired trade committee, has held hearings earlier this year on the ability of athletes to use their name, image and merit Make money likeness.
These hearings came at the urging of the NCAA, which was campaigning for laws that would provide for an antitrust exception. The goal of lobbying the NCAA is to replace state laws, such as those passed in California and Florida, that aim to limit a college’s ability to prohibit athletes from being compensated for their skills while, for example, a geek or a geek Musical miracles do not face such restrictions.
The 61-page bill proposed by Booker doesn’t just deal with paychecks. It would set health standards that range from concussion logs to investigating sexual assault cases. It would set up a fund to cover the cost of injuries that could persist long after an athlete’s career ends, and it would regulate sports agents. The colleges would have to cut coach and administrator salaries and pay other costs before stopping the sport.
It would also set up a president-appointed nine-person commission of at least five former college athletes with the power to investigate and penalize universities for violating their regulations and banning individuals from participating in college sports up to $ 250,000.
“This is one approach to belt and suspender enforcement,” said Blumenthal, a former Connecticut attorney general. “There will be no winking or nodding here. We write a good law and it will have teeth. “
The most ambitious – and probably the most controversial – provision would require colleges to share their profits with the athletes who generate them. In sports where the income exceeds the cost of scholarships in an entire division – at the moment these are athletes who play football, basketball, and baseball for men and women – the profits made in each sport are shared equally with the scholars .
Using data submitted by universities to the Department of Education, Booker said that would translate into payments of $ 173,000 per year to soccer players, $ 115,600 to male basketball players, $ 19,050 to female basketball players, and $ 8,670 to full scholarship baseball players . Those numbers pale in comparison to coaches’ salaries. For example, according to a USA Today database, 50 executive football coaches made at least $ 3 million this year. In the state of Ohio, four assistant coaches made at least $ 1 million.
If the bill is tilted towards the athletes, Booker said, it is because it is the only bill made so far from an athletes perspective, although it specifically avoids mentioning whether athletes should be considered employees.
(In contrast, Wicker’s proposed bill more stringently governs athletes’ ability to benefit from their fame, grants the NCAA the antitrust exemption it wants as an escape from ongoing legal challenges, and clearly states that athletes are not employees can be viewed.)
Booker’s bill will not be discussed in the current Senate session, but he said he would reintroduce it when the new one starts in January.
The starting point for any legislation – if closer to Booker’s proposal or Wicker’s law – will be heavily influenced by the remaining two Senate races in Georgia on January 5th. If Republicans hold on to at least one of the two seats, Wicker will keep his seat as committee chairman. If not, the Democrats will control the Justice Committee, which Booker and Blumenthal sit on, and the Trade Committee, which Blumenthal is a member.
“When we’re in the majority, we’re in a much better position to make that happen,” said Booker.