Getting paid? College sports bill could reshape playing field for athletes
A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, are working on a college sports bill that could reshape the playing field for college athletes.
It would create national regulations governing name, image and likeness rights for college players, and provide them with benefits that would protect them in the future.
"These athletes are devoting their blood, sweat and tears to power a 15-to-20 billion dollar industry," says Blumenthal.
Barry Klarberg, of Greenwich, is an owner of M.A.I. Capital, minority owner of the New York Yankees and professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. He also manages some of the biggest collegiate and professional athletes.
Klarberg says the world of sports has dramatically changed since the Supreme Court ruling in 2021, allowing college athletes to be paid through endorsement deals.
Despite this landmark for college athletes, Klarberg says more change is needed to protect the players going forward.
"Where in the past it was deemed to be an illegal activity by paying a college athlete, the Supreme Court has ruled we will not allow the backs of these student-athletes to make people money," says Klarberg.
Blumenthal, who met with Klarberg on Saturday, is sponsoring a bipartisan measure that he says will affect athletes’ bill of rights – reforming college athletics and prioritizing athletes' health, education and economic rights.
"I'm going to be enlisting Barry's help – his persuasive powers, his experience and his background to convince my colleagues we need to move forward as quickly as possible," says Blumenthal.
He says the measure would allow players to get paid if any company or person capitalizes on anything that identifies them.
Klarberg says the players need revenue sharing.
"Give these players their rightful share. They don't need to go out and do Chipotle commercials on the back of an envelope,” says Klarberg. “That's not what they want. What they really want is a fair share of the revenue that's coming into these schools."
Attorney Mark Arons, of Fairfield, says he is hands down against the concept of allowing college athletes to be paid through endorsement deals.
"This is not a good thing for college sports – for amateur athletics,” says Arons. “It interjects business and money into the system…any time you do that there's a lot of pitfalls and I think it's going to be harmful.”
Klarberg says now that the Supreme Court has fundamentally reshaped the playing field, it's time for the bipartisan College Athletes Protection and Compensation Act to bring colleges, Congress, the NCAA and players together to create what he says would finally be a fair playing field.