Lawmakers weigh pros and cons of compensating student athletes

Washington, D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Senate lawmakers are continuing their examination of the potential impact on schools and student athletes if those athletes were paid for their work on the field.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing Tuesday to weigh the pros and cons of paying student athletes.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, argues the NCAA has exploited its student athletes for far too long.

“It’s the only multi-billion-dollar industry in this country where we allow for the employers to collude in order to fix the wages of a majority of their employees,” Murphy said.

Murphy said being a student athlete is like having an unpaid full-time job.

Ramogi Huma, executive director of the National College Players Association, said the average college football player spends 44 hours per week in their sport alone.

Democrats on the HELP Committee argue that many college athletes struggle with food and economic insecurity, while their universities and coaches make millions.

“I don’t know why we decide to keep it from athletes who are producing an incredibly and increasingly valuable service,” Murphy said.

Republicans on the HELP Committee believe student athletes are already compensated through their education.

“If that student athlete wants to keep the money for himself or herself, that student athlete should become a professional,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said.

Alexander said allowing certain student athletes to be paid isn’t far to the athletes in less-popular sports.

“I do not see a good ending to allowing a few student athletes to be paid by commercial interest while most of their teammates are not,” Alexander said.

he said he does support some revenue sharing, however.

“If money is paid to student athletes for their name image and likeness, it should benefit all student athletes at that institution,” he said.

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