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U.S. Senators announce bipartisan group to examine student-athlete compensation

NCAA logo during tournament game
Mar 29, 2019; Albany , NY, USA; General view of a NCAA logo prior to an Albany regional semifinal game of the women's 2019 NCAA Tournament between the UCLA Bruins and the UConn Huskies at the Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Just months after California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to eventually allow collegiate athletes to receive compensation, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are now among the five senators forming a working group to address the issue nationally.

In an announcement on Monday, Rubio said Congress faces the crucial task of figuring out student-athlete compensation to avoid the chaos and potential legal ramifications that would come from 50 states each having different laws.

“I look forward to continuing our work to ensure both athletes and college sports can continue to thrive,” Rubio said, via a press release. “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.”

Romney highlighted how states, including Utah, face difficulties in the future regarding compensation for student-athletes. He also focused on the need to find a way to resolve a system of inequity, one that can often hurt athletes coming from low-income families the most.

“Universities and colleges in Utah are grappling with potential changes related to compensating student-athletes and so are schools across the nation,” Romney said, via press release. “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.” 

The group is also receiving support from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who called out the NCAA for a system that takes advantage of minority groups and often benefits those in power.

“The majority of executives, schools and coaches who are getting rich off college athletics are white,” Murphy said, via the press release. “While the majority of the players at the big time sports programs are black.”

In addition to their support, along with Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, the group will be joined by Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who worked in the athletic industry at Reebok during his time in business, before reaching office.

The NCAA has come under even more public scrutiny in recent months, including from another Democratic presidential candidate, for recent suspensions to Ohio State star Chase Young and a fine, along with a suspension, for Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman.