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Volume 26 No. 207
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U.S. Senator Wants NCAA To Be Flexible On CFB Start Date

Chris Murphy has been an outspoken advocate for student-athlete rights at the federal level
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Chris Murphy has been an outspoken advocate for student-athlete rights at the federal level
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Chris Murphy has been an outspoken advocate for student-athlete rights at the federal level
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) believes the NCAA and its member schools should be willing to reschedule the college football season to a later date if large numbers of student athletes test positive for COVID-19. "The NCAA and their schools are going to have to be willing to change their plans if there are a number of outbreaks," Murphy told THE DAILY yesterday. "Schools and certain teams may not be able to play or the NCAA may need to look at moving the entire season back to a safer time -- like the spring." Murphy has been an outspoken advocate for student-athlete rights and is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions that held a hearing earlier this month on the re-opening of colleges during the pandemic. Murphy focused his time at the hearing on student athletics, including asking Purdue President Mitch Daniels hypothetically what he would do if there was an outbreak on the women's soccer team or the football team. "I am a big college sports fan," Murphy said. "I want the college football season to be played. I want college basketball to come back, but only if it's safe. The NCAA and their members have to be willing to allow facts to dictate the course of action they take."

ISSUE WITH PLAYERS SIGNING WAIVERS: Murphy also has voiced concern about waivers student athletes are being asked to sign by schools universities in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic prior to participating in voluntary workouts. Ohio State and SMU are among those to require players to sign such documents. "My specific worry is this: These are not voluntary workouts," Murphy said. "Let's stop calling them that. If these kids want to play, then they have to be at these workouts. To ask them to show up when they may have health complications, in of itself, and then to ask them to waive their legal rights, I think it's just bananas." Murphy indicated it was unlikely that Congress would pass legislation on waivers and other practices regarding student athletes returning to school in the near future. "So the best practice right now is to try to shame the schools into doing more to protect these kids," Murphy said. "I am going to continue to raise my voice and try to push the schools to be more serious about protecting the athletes during this serious time."

THOUGHTS ON NIL BILL: A bill was introduced last week by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that, among other things, gives the NCAA until June '21 to put new NIL rules in place that will supersede state laws. Murphy said he could not say if that bill had the support in Congress to pass, but said he chose not to be a co-sponsor. "Senator Rubio and I were exploring bi-partisan legislation," Murphy said. "We weren't able to come to an agreement. I think he sincerely cares about the health and welfare of these athletes. He also wants to achieve a bill that solves the current problem of different state standards of name, image and likeness. Personally, I think it would be a mistake to hand over the keys to this debate to the NCAA. I don't think the NCAA and the member schools have shown much seriousness about putting the needs of athletes first. I think if we are going to pass a bill at the federal level this year on name image and likeness, it has to be one that puts student athletes first."