WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday announced the formation of a bipartisan working group to facilitate ongoing discussions about student athlete compensation and related issues. The working group will provide an informal setting for discussions among members, and also with collegiate partners, athletes, and experts who wish to engage lawmakers. Additional members of the working group include U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“College athletes are being used as commodities to make money for the NCAA, colleges and corporations, while not being compensated for the work they do, nor given the appropriate health care and academic opportunities they deserve. That’s plain wrong,” Murphy said. “The majority of executives and coaches who are getting rich off college athletics are white, while the majority of the players at the big time sports programs are black. This is a civil rights issue, and I’m glad to launch this bipartisan working group to fix the inequities in this broken system.”
“Universities and colleges in Utah are grappling with potential changes related to compensating student athletes and so are schools across the nation,” Romney said. “It’s not fair for student athletes, especially those coming from low-income families, to give so much time and energy to their sport without any kind of compensation. We need to find a way to resolve this inequity while preserving the integrity of collegiate sports. This working group will serve as a forum for an ongoing bipartisan dialogue as we evaluate potential solutions.”
“I look forward to continuing our work to ensure both athletes and college sports can continue to thrive,” Rubio said. “Having 50 different state laws for compensating student athletes on their name, image, likeness would result in chaos and endless litigation. This bipartisan working group has a tough task ahead of us, but it is clear Congress must address this important issue.”
“Having spent a portion of my career working in the athletic industry, I know how important it is to preserve the collegiate sports experience while promoting equality for student athletes across all 50 states,” Perdue said. “The NCAA is right to address student athlete compensation, and the only way to find a balanced solution is to ensure all stakeholders have a seat at the table. This bipartisan working group will provide an informal setting for these discussions and will hopefully produce solutions to prevent any state, school, or student from being at a disadvantage.”
“As a former student-athlete, so much of my life was shaped by football, and I know how hard it is to balance the demands of education and athletics, especially for student-athletes for whom an athletic scholarship is the only way they can finance their education,” said Booker, a former high school All-American and Division 1 football player at Stanford, said. “Student-athletes – especially black athletes, who are disproportionately represented in revenue-generating sports – are a massive source of revenue for colleges and media companies, yet they aren’t allowed to share in the enormous value they create. And these injustices perpetuate longer after students’ playing days are over in the form of student debt and a life time of injuries. This system is deeply unfair and unjust – it needs to change. I’m excited to join this working group to help identify solutions to end this exploitation of college athletes.”