WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Friday noted growing support for his second Madness, Inc. report “How Colleges Keep Athletes on the Field and Out of the Classroom” released last week. In this report, Murphy examines the ways in which colleges fail to provide athletes the education they deserve.
This was the second in a series of Madness, Inc. reports that consider a range of problems within college sports. Murphy’s first report, released in March during the annual men’s basketball “March Madness” tournament, examined the profits of college sports and how the NCAA enriches nearly every entity but the athletes themselves. In that report, Murphy called on the NCAA to compensate athletes. The report found that across the 65 Power Five conference schools, only 12 percent of all revenue goes toward student aid and scholarships, while 16 percent goes to coaches’ salaries. Subsequent reports will examine the nature of amateurism, the long-term health consequences that college athletes face, and how to address the litany of issues within the college sports industry.
Below is a roundup of support for Murphy’s second report and his work to bring attention to the civil rights issues plaguing college athletes:
Devon Ramsey, former University of North Carolina football player: "Senator Murphy’s report does an excellent job of revealing the truth and the irony behind academics within college sports. The scholarship, which provides excellent opportunity towards athletic development, in fact, ends up pigeonholing athletes and stunting their professional and academic growth. Without the time and resources to pursue professional development opportunities, colleges and universities are denying their student-athletes a complete higher education experience. I look forward to seeing the reform brought about by these reports as lawmakers discover the reality of college athletics."
Russell Okung, Super Bowl Champion, Entrepreneur and Pro-Bowl Tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers: "As a professional athlete, I fully support Senator Chris Murphy's report because I believe that if we want society to treat athletes equitably, we have to be in solidarity with all athletes. For too long, the NCAA has maintained the absurdity that a 'college education' is sufficient compensation for student athletes. This report exposes the boldness of that lie: What kind of education were we receiving exactly, when we're expected by our universities to work 40-50 hours a week in our professions? When we're "encouraged" by universities to take easy classes so we can focus on sports? The NCAA's justification is rooted in the American exploitation of black labor – it calls to mind slaveholders' justifications that having slaves was legitimate so long as they provided enslaved peoples with ‘room and board’ and educated them in ‘religious instruction.’ This is basically the same tune that the universities are singing today.”
Jay Smith, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Author of Cheated: The UNC Scandal: "Since the money flood began in the 1980s, the system of intercollegiate athletics has grown increasingly dysfunctional and exploitative. Each big-time sports campus has its Potemkin village--filled out with an academic support program, fancy gyms, propaganda photos, and testimonials from those who "made it"--that allows fans, boosters, and students to pretend that "student-athletes" are just like regular students, only luckier. We're asked to look away from the injustices hidden behind the curtain: the concussions and broken bodies, the poverty-level existence, the abusive coaches, the sham curricula, the baked-in racism, the flawed medical care, the feckless faculty, the grossly overpaid administrators. College sport as currently constituted is a university-sponsored fraud, all the more shameful for its association with universities. It must be disassembled and rebuilt from scratch. Senator Murphy and his staff should be applauded for recognizing the true breadth of the problem. Every sports fan with a conscience should support their work."
Dr. Fritz Polite, president of The Drake Group: "Senator Murphy properly raises the issues of academic fraud and athlete compensation as civil rights issues that disproportionately impact athletes of color in football and basketball but are epidemic among many sports in all competitive divisions…We concur with Senator Murphy that college athletes deserve a better shake - a meaningful education, more time to devote to their studies and better protection of their health and well-being. The Drake Group urges the Senator to continue to play a leadership role in demanding that institutions of higher education protect athletes from the unrealistic time demands of coaches, place a higher priority on providing a real education and commit to complete transparency with regard to the academic data of their college athletes in order to allow faculty oversight. We hope the Senator will convince his colleagues to embrace a bipartisan Congressional effort to address these issues."
Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association that represents more than 20,000 current and former college athletes: "It is clear from Senator Murphy’s reports that NCAA sports is financially rich, but morally bankrupt. The NCAA and its colleges have defaulted on the promise to provide college athletes a realistic chance to earn a quality education and complete their degree. In addition, the NCAA has been found multiple times by courts of law to have harmed tens of thousands of college athletes financially by illegally price-fixing their compensation. The NCAA’s claim that it protects college athletes from exploitation is both absurd and deceptive. These reports expose this deception and bring us another important step closer to real reform."
Andy Schwarz, co-founder of the Historical Basketball League: “I love that Senator Chris Murphy has framed his work in college sports as a civil rights issue, because the way to reform college athletics is not simply to change who is abrogating athletes’ rights and expropriating the wealth they generate, but rather to restore to athletes their full rights and then let them earn their full market value – including earning a real education. This is what the HBL is all about and why I am encouraged by what Senator Murphy is doing to make sure schools aren’t allowed to put college athletes in the position of being second-class citizens.”
Tim Nevius, former NCAA investigator and Executive Director of the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative at the Urban Justice Center: "In my time as an NCAA investigator and now attorney for college athletes, I have seen blatant academic fraud and improper academic assistance to ensure that players remain eligible. This behavior does not benefit the athletes, it demeans them and sets them up for a lifetime of struggles. Universities and coaches demand that athletes perform on the field, first and foremost, and they go to great lengths to ensure that school work does not get in the way. We don’t properly educate college athletes, we don’t fairly compensate them, we don’t adequately protect them, and we don’t give them representation. Too often, we use them, we exploit them, and we discard them. The only thing more disturbing is the silence, inaction, and constant dishonesty by those in charge to prop up this shameful system in pursuit of profit and power. The College Athlete Advocacy Initiative fully supports Senator Murphy’s calls for reform and his efforts to bring much-needed attention to these disgraceful problems in our institutions of higher education.”
Dr. Michael B. Poliakoff, President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni: “Failing to help college athletes flourish academically makes a mockery of the term “student-athlete” and betrays the purpose of athletic programs to build good character and values. This report calls for systemic change, not cosmetic intervention. It challenges misleading NCAA metrics and seeks accountability for the recurring scandals that disgrace college athletics. Higher education must be grateful for research of this caliber. Boards of trustees must take a vigilant oversight role to ensure the integrity of their institutions and adherence to their primary mission: educating students for meaningful careers and engaged citizenship.”