The Drake Group Applauds U.S. Senators for Taking Action on College Athlete Safety During Pandemic
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Drake Group applauds U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT) and Cory
Booker (NJ) for introducing the “College Athlete Pandemic Safety Act” that would protect college
athletes from forced or premature returns to campus and financial retribution during the pandemic.
The Senators should be commended for addressing the efforts by institutions to require athletes to
sign waivers of liability that protect institutions from lawsuits related to COVID-19 or to refuse to tell
athletes when other athletes at the institution test positive. If athletes refuse to sign these waivers, they face the possibility of losing their athletic scholarships. None of these practices are morally acceptable and all send an embarrassing message that protecting the college or university from a lawsuit and getting athletes back to playing football so the institution can garner gate receipts and television revenues is more important than athletes’ lives.
We also commend the Senators for their June 24 letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association
which reminds NCAA President Mark Emmert of the NCAA’s role to protect college athletes. The letter strongly suggests that the NCAA must ensure that its member schools have safety plans in place consistent with CDC guidelines and must prohibit “schools from requiring or allowing students to participate in athletics before it is safe for them to do so.” The Senators quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci,
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who stated that “unless players are essentially in a bubble insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day, it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall.” The letter goes on to question why it is Congress, rather than the NCAA, that is taking the actions proposed in the “College Athlete Pandemic Safety Act”. We ask the same question and lament that college players’ health, and possibly lives, are being sacrificed so member institutions can collect gate receipts and media rights fees.
Unfortunately, the NCAA is once again showing its true colors, that of a trade association focused on
maximizing the commercial revenues of its members’ college basketball and football programs.
Without Congressional intervention, The Drake Group believes that college athletes will never benefit
from the collegiate athletic governance association they deserve – one that places a priority on
athletes’ education and physical health and well-being.