CT Sen. Murphy turns up heat on college athletes’ pay debate

Hartford Business Journal

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy excoriated schools’ treatment of college athletes ahead of the NCAA’s annual convention, and said he favors federal legislation allowing them to earn money from endorsements.

“Federal legislation must make sure the athletes who are drawing all the fans, viewers, and endorsements receive a portion of the bounty the industry of college athletics accrues,” Murphy said. “College athletes are getting robbed.”

Murphy made the statement the same week his office released a report about injuries college players sustain and the lack of support they receive from higher-education institutions after they’re hurt. The report contends that 20,000 NCAA football players are injured each year, and 19% of college athletic trainers reported coaches playing injured athletes.

“For a century, the NCAA and its member colleges have promised benevolence while refusing to follow through on their primary mission to keep athletes safe,” the report said.

The NCAA’s three-day convention in Anaheim, Calif., kicks off today. It’s the first one held since the league made a historic concession last fall saying it would allow athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses, a move NCAA officials resisted for decades amid heavy criticism.

The NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to allow athletes to accept endorsements in October. The reversal came after California passed a Fair Pay to Play Act, which would go into effect in 2023. Other states are looking at possible legislation. 

The California law would allow athletes to sign endorsement deals and licensing contracts, something NCAA rule makers will address.

At least one Connecticut state lawmaker said the state should consider similar legislation. 

NCAA officials said they were aiming to have a nationwide rollout of the recommendations made among their 1,100 members. Officials said the working group will continue to get feedback on how to deal with state legislation and that will help guide future recommendations.