SUPPORT GROWS FOR MURPHY’S THIRD & FINAL “MADNESS, INC.” REPORT, CALLS FOR COLLEGES TO PROVIDE ATHLETES THE HEALTH CARE THEY DESERVE

HARTFORD—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Thursday noted growing support for his third and final Madness, Inc. report that examines the ways in which colleges and the NCAA neglect athletes’ health. Last month, Murphy had a press conference with former President of the Drake Group Allen Sack and Connecticut State Senator Derek Slap and met with NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert to discuss the need for federal legislation that puts student athletes front and center.    

Below is a roundup of support for Murphy’s third and final report, along with the work he’s done to examine the range of problems within college athletics and the civil rights issues plaguing student athletes: 

Kemba Walker, former UConn Husky and current NBA All-Star: “Along with ensuring athlete health and education is a priority, I share Senator Murphy’s perspective that we must give athletes an opportunity I never had: the ability to profit off their name, image, and likeness. As athletes, we leave everything on the court or field because we love the game and being a part of something special. But athletes also deserve a fair deal for the sacrifices and effort we make. I support Senator Murphy’s work and look forward to working with him to do right by college athletes.” 

Jay Bilas, Attorney and Basketball Broadcaster, former Duke University basketball player: “Senator Chris Murphy has done great work to spotlight how athletes are used as revenue generators yet disallowed the same economic rights as literally every other person in American life, including all non-athlete students. People can make up their own minds as to how they feel about how athletes are exploited by this system, but Senator Murphy’s work provides the data to make an informed judgment.” 

Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association that represents more than 20,000 current and former college athletes: “NCAA sports is a predatory industry that exploits college athletes.  The NCAA turns its back on athletes when their college athletic programs physically and sexually abuse them, sacrifice their brains in pursuit of the next win, kill them in negligent workouts, and leave them with a lifetime of chronic injuries.  The National College Players Association supports Senator Murphy’s call to action to end the carnage in NCAA sports. The disregard the colleges and the NCAA show for college athletes’ health is indicative of how they see their players - as university property.  It’s a common theme that is prominent in each of Senator Murphy’s reports. College athletes are in desperate need of legislative action to ensure key physical, academic, and financial protections.” 

Marty McNair, Jordan McNair’s Father and Founder of The Jordan McNair Foundation: “I support Senator Murphy’s report. I remember when the coaches from Jordan’s college of choice sat at our kitchen table a few days before National Signing Day. We asked questions about his well-being and playing time. They told us if Jordan came to spring practice well-conditioned, he’d get an opportunity. We were assured your child will be safe here, ‘we’ll take care of him as if he was our own.’ Of course we trusted and believed them. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, when Jordan complained and was in visible distress during conditioning workouts, the coaches didn’t take care of him. We didn’t think to ask about an emergency action plan if Jordan or any of his teammates got hurt on the field. Like so many parents we didn’t think to ask what policies were in place, what guarantees were in place if he couldn’t play football again, and most importantly we didn’t think to ask anything beyond our information source. While Jordan was in a hospital bed for two weeks fighting for his life from a 100 percent preventable injury we continuously asked ourselves what questions did we not ask. This report educates everyone about what we unknowingly send our student athletes into guised as an opportunity for a college education and a chance to play at a professional level of sports. The NCAA has a mere $10,000.00 life insurance policy on all student athletes in the event of a tragedy. A student athlete’s life is worth very little in the world of profitable collegiate sports. This must change. The more empowered student athletes are in their true value and self-worth gives them a voice in the decisions that are made regarding their safety, education, and overall well-being.” 

David Ridpath, President of The Drake Group: “The Drake Group commends Senator Murphy and his aides on issuing an outstanding third report of Madness Inc. detailing many of the ills and needs for reform in intercollegiate athletics. This third report details the most important area of all and that is the protection of the college athlete from physical and psychological harm. While other things are done in college athletics to gain an advantage for winning and revenue generation such as academic fraud, it is criminal that NCAA member institutions have put glory ahead of health and welfare. This report lays out tragic detail after detail where athletes were used simply as commodities so others could be entertained and make money, yet some college athletes even paid the price with their lives. It is time, as the report says and The Drake Group has consistently stated, to make serious changes in this model. Simple changes like full medical coverage and aligning supervisory control of sport medicine and athletic training away from the athletic department can go a long way to shifting the paradigm and giving the athletes the power they deserve. As the report so eloquently states, “Doing what they love and what they’re passionate about should not put athletes in danger. It should not leave them broken. And it should never leave them dead.” 

Tim Nevius, Former NCAA investigator and Executive Director of the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative: “College athletes put their bodies and brains at risk every day for the benefit of a multibillion-dollar industry that refuses to afford them basic protections and fundamental rights.  Serious conflicts of interest regarding medical decisions endanger the athletes and a refusal to implement and enforce common sense health and safety rules undermines the purpose for which our educational institutions purportedly exist.  Time and again, college sports leaders have failed and we cannot trust them to do what is right.   It’s a new age and we need immediate, bi-partisan action led by Senator Murphy to reform this broken system, protect our young people, and correct the disturbing inequities in college sports.” 

Charles Grantham, Director of the Center for Sports Management at Seton Hall University and Former Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association : “The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges.”  Martin Luther King Jr. I applaud and support Senator Murphy and his action to protect college athletes from the abuses of the unethical and exploitative behavior of the NCAA. Its false narrative of the “amateurism” business model has enabled the non-profit, educational institutions of the power conferences to generate  substantial revenue running, in effect, “for profit” sports franchises in football and basketball.” 

Murphy’s first report, released in March of last year 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. 

In December, Murphy and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) 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. 

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