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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2014 03:31 PM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Intercollegiate Student Athlete Rights Act
In the near future, I will be reintroducing the Intercollegiate Student Athlete Rights Act to allow for fair and equitable sharing of revenue earned by student athletes at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. This bill will provide avenues for college players to receive a portion of the wealth they have generated for themselves, their schools, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”).

Collegiate athletics is a major source of revenue for universities, built on the backs of "amateur" student athletes. The USA Today reports that one Pennsylvania school took in over $108 million in NCAA revenues last year. According to the Drake Group, a national organization of faculty that studies intercollegiate athletics, the compensation of head football coaches increased 8.3 times faster than that of university presidents between 1985 and 2009, and 25 times faster than that of full professors. In Pennsylvania, out of the 18 universities with state affiliations, this year $7 million alone is being distributed only to 3 football coaches. While the schools and coaches continue to benefit from this revenue, student athletes are excluded from the very revenue they help generate. My legislation will ensure that student athletes receive a fair and equitable piece of the revenues they generate for everyone else.

First, my bill will require Pennsylvania colleges and universities with media revenues over $10 million annually to provide comprehensive medical insurance coverage to student athletes beyond the NCAA-mandated minimum catastrophic insurance. This would include care for all injuries or illnesses resulting from conditioning, practices, games and other related activities. In the case of athletes who lose their ability to play due to an injury, qualifying schools would be required to provide an academic scholarship equal to the player’s athletic scholarship.

Second, this bill will protect a student athlete’s individual right of publicity at all Pennsylvania colleges and universities. According to its bylaws, the NCAA aims to protect student athletes “from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.” Yet a school, the NCAA, or an athletic conference can put a student’s name or likeness all over its own marketing or advertising for a myriad of vague purposes that have little to do with an education or athletic ability. My bill would allow a student athlete to retain the rights to use his or her name and likeness for any purpose that is not directly related to the team, the school, or an athletic association. This includes the ability to use one’s identity as an athlete if it is being used independent of intercollegiate athletic programs.

Third, this legislation will treat student athletes at PASSHE and state-related schools making over $10 million in media revenues as public employees, allowing them to form collective bargaining units to negotiate for pay and benefits. Graduate students at public and private institutions have repeatedly been allowed to organize under state and federal labor law to bargain for improved working conditions and fair wages. Football players at Northwestern University in Chicago recently teamed with the United Steelworkers of Pittsburgh to request union cards as the College Athletes Players Association. Pennsylvania can be a leader in this growing movement by allowing student athletes at PASSHE and state-related schools to similarly petition the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

Please join me in supporting Pennsylvania student athletes.If you have any questions, please contact my office at 717-787-5970. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB33