WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Tuesday met with Dr. Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA, for the inaugural meeting of the bipartisan working group created this month on student athlete compensation and related issues. The meeting covered: 1) the need and potential for federal action in the area of college athletics and athlete compensation; 2) growing agreement from all parties that change is needed; 3) what federal legislation could look like; and (4) the imperative to put athlete rights and their voices in the center of these discussions.
“This is the right first meeting to have. But of course, there are lots of other voices that need to be heard: first and foremost, student athlete voices,” said Murphy.
On Monday, Murphy released his third and final report in a series that considers the range of problems within college athletics. The report, “Madness, Inc.: How College Sports Can Leave Athletes Broken and Abandoned,” examines the ways in which colleges and the NCAA neglect athletes’ health. Murphy’s first report, released in March during the annual men’s basketball “March Madness” tournament, examined the billions in revenues produced by college sports and how that money enriches nearly everyone but the athletes themselves. Coaches, former athletes, and advocates have spoken out in support of Murphy’s first report. Murphy’s second report examined the ways in which colleges fail in providing athletes the education they deserve. This report similarly received praise from coaches, former athletes and advocates.
This month, Murphy and Romney created the working group along with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in order to facilitate ongoing discussions about student-athlete compensation and related issues among members, as well as with collegiate partners, athletes, and experts who wish to engage lawmakers.
A transcript of Murphy’s remarks at the brief media availability with Romney and Emmert held after can be found below:
MURPHY: “Well, thank you very much Senator Romney. Thanks for convening us. I think it's going to be a really important forum for us to try to make sure that this conversation inside the Senate remains a bipartisan one. I think there's not a lot of [ideological] debate over some of the questions about what the future of college athletes’ rights should be. And I'm really grateful to have Dr. Emmert here with us.
“Listen—I've been a critic of the current structure of college athletics. I think it's time for us to recognize that student athletes need to get a little bit more than they [have] today, that they receive a little bit more protection, financially and otherwise. And I'm really grateful that the NCAA is willing to be part of this conversation.
“I think Senator Romney is right. This is the right first meeting to have. But of course, there are lots of other voices that need to be heard: first and foremost, student athlete voices.
“And I'm looking forward to, once we get back in the new year, to continuing this discussion and continuing to work with colleges and universities...to try to find a way forward that recognizes what I think a lot of Americans desire—which is to have more of the bounty coming out of college athletics accrue to the benefit of the kids who are showing up every day, working hard, and putting on a pretty good show for an increasing fan base all around the country.
“Dr. Emmert, very glad to be in discussions with you today.”