January 25, 2021
Over the summer, Cory Booker told Deadspin that he “would not be here today if it were not for college sports” and the lessons he learned from playing college football. The former tight end was a high school All-American and received a scholarship to play Division I ball at Stanford. But his experience as a college athlete has also helped him shape a bill that aims to reform college sports.
In a recent op-ed in Sports Illustrated, Sen. Booker (D-NJ) explained his reasons for introducing and supporting the College Athletes Bill of Rights, a bill co-sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and a number of Democratic Senators. The bill has been in the works for months, but was formally introduced in December.
If passed, the College Athletes Bill of Rights will allow athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The legislation will guarantee a basic degree of protection for college athletes including enforceable health and safety guidelines, scholarship preservation, and sports-related injury support from each athlete’s respective college.
Booker told Deadspin that there is broad consensus among his colleagues in the Senate that something should be done about college sports, from NIL compensation to concussion protocols to raising graduation rates and more.
“Mark Emmert even endorsed many of these principles in his address to the NCAA membership at their convention earlier this month,” Booker stated recently via email about the NCAA’s president. “Momentum is on our side and I believe that there is a real window of opportunity to pass our College Athletes’ Bill of Rights.”
And with a Democratic majority in the Senate and bipartisan support for NIL legislation, congress could step into the college sports arena as soon as this summer.
“It’s too early to speculate when our bill might receive a floor vote,” Booker said. “But we are hopeful it will happen sooner than later. Florida’s new NIL law will go into effect on July 1 of this year. I think that could serve as a mechanism to nudge the Congress toward action.”
Last June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed the nation’s first NIL bill into law. This summer, Florida college athletes will be able to cash in on endorsement deals.
The NCAA has their own NIL proposal too, but the Senator said the nonprofit “cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of their athletes,” especially after recently delaying a vote on transfer rules and NIL. The NCAA’s inaction, Booker said, “tells us all we need to know.”
It’s a bit ironic, but the new Presidential administration promises, in part, to get back to some sort of normal. But the sports world could look very different in the next four years — college sports included.