HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy released a report Monday calling on NCAA schools to do more to provide health care to their student athletes.
The report is the last of three from the Connecticut Democrat dealing with issues surrounding players and the money generated by college athletics.
Murphy, who co-chairs a bipartisan congressional working group on athlete compensation with Utah Republican Mitt Romney, also announced they would meet Tuesday with NCAA President Mark Emmert to discuss developing national policies for paying athletes.
The senator released a report in March critical of how little college athletes benefit from the profits generated by sports. A second report in June detailed what he called a “lack of academic integrity” among NCAA institutions.
His latest report recommends the NCAA require full health coverage for athletes and allow players to see doctors who are not associated with their athletic program or school.
Murphy also wants schools to guarantee four-year scholarships for athletes, including those who become injured, and allow players to transfer immediately from programs if they believe their health is at risk.
He also called for stronger consequences for schools that don’t follow protocols for handling concussions and other health issues.
“The NCCA Division I manual is 400 pages long,” Murphy said. “In it, 38 pages are dedicated to stopping student athletes from being able to make money. One page of 400 is dedicated to protecting the health of college athletes. That speaks to the misplaced priorities of the NCAA today.”
Phone and email messages seeking comment were left with the NCAA.
The issue of athlete compensation has gained urgency since California passed a law in October that will give college athletes the right to make money off things like endorsement deals and promoting businesses or products on their social media accounts. That law does not go into effect until 2023.
Since then, more than 20 other states have moved on similar legislation, with some states saying they would like new laws in place as soon as next year.
Murphy said there needs to be a uniform national policy, or at least minimum national requirements, for compensation from which all states can work in passing their own legislation.
“To me, this is an issue of civil rights,” Murphy said. “These are largely young African-American athletes that are playing at the big-time college sports programs. And the adults who are getting rich off their exploits are largely white.”
The NCAA Board of Governors in October voted to allow athletes to be compensated “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model,” and gave schools in its three divisions until 2021 to come up with a policy.
Murphy said he is willing to work with the NCAA on federal legislation but believes that organization wants Congress to pass something that provides a very limited right to compensation for athletes. He said that is something he is not interested in doing.
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