Senators Chris Murphy and Mitt Romney launch working group to discuss college athlete compensation

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks with reporters alongside Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., about their recent congressional delegation trip to the Middle East, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, inside the Senate Press Gallery on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. are leading a working group regarding college athlete compensation. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

There’s now a working group in the United States Senate devoted to the topic of college athlete compensation.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced the launch of the bipartisan group on Thursday. The group was launched to “facilitate ongoing discussions about student-athlete compensation and related issues” and also contains presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

“College athletes are being used as commodities to make money for the NCAA, colleges and corporations, while not being compensated for the work they do, nor given the appropriate health care and academic opportunities they deserve,” Murphy said in a statement. “That’s plain wrong. The majority of executives and coaches who are getting rich off college athletics are white, while the majority of players at the big time sports programs are black. This is a civil rights issue and I’m glad to launch this bipartisan working group to fix the inequities in this broken system.”

Both Murphy and Romney have previously spoken out against the current collegiate system that prevents athletes from capitalizing on their name, image and likeness rights. Murphy released a report ahead of the Sweet 16 in March outlining college sports revenue that doesn’t go to athletes’ pockets.

“Universities and colleges in Utah are grappling with potential changes related to compensating student-athletes and so are schools across the nation,” Romney said. “It’s not fair for student-athletes, especially those coming from low-income families, to give so much time and energy to their sport without any kind of compensation. We need to find a way to resolve this inequity while preserving the integrity of college sports. This working group will serve as a forum for an ongoing bipartisan dialogue as we evaluate potential solutions.”

Romney had previously said Congress would act regarding college sports.

NCAA looking at changing amateurism rules

As states like California and Florida got the college athlete compensation movement going with laws designed to let college athletes take endorsement money the NCAA moved to form a working group to explore changing its current rules around amateurism.

In late October, the NCAA’s board of governors voted unanimously to “immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century” regarding the way athletes can be compensated, though it didn’t actually make any changes to existing rules.

Thursday, the NCAA said it looked forward to working with Congress. A federal law superseding state laws regarding athlete compensation would make things easier for NCAA schools rather than navigating the specific intricacies of differing state laws.

“The NCAA, its member schools and conferences are committed to enhancing our rules while providing the best educational and athletic experience for our student-athletes,” the NCAA’s statement said. “We know that continuing our modernization of rules will require some level of federal assistance and we look forward to working with federal legislators as we drive improvements for the next decade.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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