Cory Booker slams NCAA for profiting off wageless student athletes

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Jackson Thompson
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  • Sen. Cory Booker spoke out against the NCAA's current business model to not pay student athletes.

  • Booker appeared on an episode of HBO Real Sports Podcast on Wednesday and spoke out on the matter.

  • Booker said no other industry in America profits off unpaid workers the way the NCAA does.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sen. Cory Booker spoke out against the NCAA's business practices during an appearance on HBO's "Real Sports Podcast" on Wednesday.

The New Jersey senator, a former student-athlete himself who played tight at Stanford from 1989-90, implied that athletes not getting paid is un-American.

"There's no other business like this in America, so anti-our ideals of a free market," Booker said. "You can't benefit at all. But by the way, the billions of dollars you create, we're going to create glorious, luxury facilities all over the place. We're gonna pay people millions and millions of dollars of salary. Everybody else is gonna get rich. But you just go out there, sweat, bleed, bruise, break for the purity of the standards we're really holding to."

Booker, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, introduced a College Athletes Bill of Rights in congress back in December that would allow student-athletes to get paid and share in the total profits of their respective universities. The bill proposes a 50% threshold of individual athletic departments' total revenue, excluding scholarship values, to be distributed to athletes, similar to how collective bargaining agreements in the NBA and NFL reserve portions of those leagues' revenue for player salaries.

"It's a revenue-sharing proposal that says in the sports that generate revenue above the scholarships that you would share with the athletes 50% of that revenue minus the scholarship costs," Booker said. "I think that revenue sharing is fair, it's just. Let's stop making this lie that other people should get rich off of the people that are in the field or on the court that are doing the work and creating the revenue."

Other major reforms in the bill include all student-athletes getting an indefinite scholarship for as many years as it takes for them to receive an undergraduate degree. In addition, it would bar coaches from influencing their field of study and establishing a medical trust fund to cover the costs of any out-of-pocket medical expenses for their time in school and five years after.

However, the revenue sharing would only extend to athletes playing revenue sports like football and men's basketball and not to athletes playing less lucrative college sports. Some critics of the bill believe that revenue sharing with athletes from only certain sports would lessen the treatment of non-revenue programs and could even result in those sports getting cut from universities.

Booker believes that it will simply come down to athletic departments setting specific financial priorities on athlete salaries instead of buffing administrator salaries and investing in expensive facilities.

"The lavishness of what they're spending means that they will have to make a tough choice and say 'the coaching salary does not need to be a million-plus,'" Booker said. "Trust me, the cross country team is not that expensive."

But for Booker, football and men's basketball are the priority due to an overarching issue of race. Over 53% of college football players are Black, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, while over 56% of men's basketball players are Black, according to NCAA.org.

"There is a dynamic of race about this," Booker said. "The revenue-generating sports, particularly basketball and football, are disproportionately African American, and there is something problematic when you have graduation rates so low amongst African American male athletes. These are their top-earning years, and they aren't able to benefit. There is something just wrong about that as well."

The NCAA touts a near 90% graduation rate among its athletes. However, a study by the USC Race and Equity Center in 2018 concluded that Black male student-athletes have just a 55% graduation rate, lower than the average student-athlete and lower than the average non-athlete Black undergrad.

Booker and his Democrat colleagues will address these issues by pushing the College Athletes Bill of Rights through Congress. Still, he even admitted that he is skeptical of such an ambitious piece of legislation making it through Washington D.C. and said there are no promises about any major reforms any time soon.

Read the original article on Insider