PORTLAND, Ore. — Five U.S. Senators, including Oregon’s Ron Wyden, are introducing a piece of legislation dubbed the College Athletes Bill of Rights — meant to help college athletes get a share of the money that these sports generate.
Billion dollar television deals, schools changing conferences and the opportunity for athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness have changed the landscape of college sports.
“With the size of these TV contracts and TV revenues I think you'd almost answer your question with, 'Why not?'” said Wyden, a former college athlete. “It always came back to me around three areas. You want athletes to have a chance to be healthy — and to be healthy in the years ahead, you want them to get their education and you want them to have financial security.”
The bill allows athletes to market their names, image and likeness with very few restrictions. It also makes sure athletes can keep their scholarships for as long as it takes to earn their degree. Moreover, it aims to improve health and safety standards, as well as establishing a medical trust fund covering the costs of out-of-pocket medical expenses years after they’re done playing.
In a press release from Senator Wyden, Oregon women’s basketball star Sedona Prince was quoted in support for the bill.
“Student athletes deserve more. During my college career, I have been wronged by the institutions that are meant to take care of me,” said Prince, a women’s basketball player at the University of Oregon and athlete rights activist. “From paying my own surgery bills and nearly filing for bankruptcy, to dealing with the extreme inequities between male and female athletes, something must change. I fully support and back Senator Booker’s College Athlete Bill of Rights and hope that the future of college sports will soon be a safe and welcoming environment for all student athletes.”
The College Athlete Bill of Rights also strengthens compliance when it comes to Title IX and requires schools to report on a variety of things, like donations from boosters or even the amount of hours athletes spend at practice, watch film or are traveling. A commission would be created to make sure current athletes know their rights.
“They're student athletes. we're concerned about their health, we're concerned about their education and we want them to have the opportunity if they work hard to have some measure of financial security. This bill, in each of those areas, moves in the right direction,” said Wyden. “Everybody to walk away saying they're treated fairly ought to be a big part of what sports are all about.”