Should Government Act to Make College Sports Safer?

Many people think so. That includes Donna Lopiano, the president of the Drake Group, an organization formed in 1999 to push for reform in college sports.

In this interview with her, the Martin Center’s Shannon Watkins explores the issues and the prospects for federal and/or state action.

One issue is the current NCAA rules against student athletes making any money at all from their names, images or likenesses. Lopiano notes that 34 states have either legislated or have bills pending that would give athletes that freedom, but she would rather that Congress settle the matter.

Regarding safety, Lopiano wants to see a fund established to deal with the inevitable injuries some athletes will suffer. She also wants to have the schools start paying the insurance bills of the players.

She has sharp words for the NCAA: “The NCAA is nowhere near protecting student-athletes’ education, student-athletes’ health and well-being. They’ve become a trade association, protecting the money-making ability of their member institutions and keeping athletes as minimum wage employees. It’s a one-year scholarship, you can’t work outside [the school], [and] you’re limited as to how much your scholarship money will cover.”

Apparently, most of the key legislators the Drake Group has been working with are Democrats, so there is probably some chance that there will be some federal action this year or next.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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