Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has introduced a resolution in the Tennessee Senate calling for the state’s public universities to oppose the National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibition on compensation for student-athletes.
Senate Resolution 22 says current rules by the NCAA violate the free-market principle of economic liberty and amounts to little more than indentured servitude to sports programs which have robust finances.
The resolution was filed today as the American Athletic Conference basketball tournament opens in Memphis and the Southern Southeastern Conference tournament begins in Nashville.
“Exploiting these athletes is a violation of their economic liberty and civil rights,” Kelsey said in a press release.
“A free education is not adequate compensation for talented athletes who put their health and/or future earnings at stake when playing college sports. These are extremely rigorous programs which bring in a lot of money. The NCAA has turned a blind eye to these players’ civil rights, forcing college athletes to work without adequate compensation for too long. It is time to reform college athletics, so these players have an opportunity to be compensated for their talent, as well as their labor.”
The resolution references the injury received by Duke University basketball player Zion Williamson, who was injured in a game with North Carolina three weeks ago. Fans were angered at the potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in Zion’s future NBA career with the “one and done” rule which prohibits most graduating high school players from entering the NBA Draft unless the athletes play at least one year of college basketball.
“The NBA tacitly endorsed the NCAA’s outdated concept of amateurism to restrict the career and earnings of a young man who should already be making millions of dollars as one of the best young players in the league, with potentially disastrous results,” the resolution states.
The resolution also cites Bannon v. NCAA, a U.S. Court of Appeals case which found certain NCAA amateurism rules violated federal antitrust law and were harmful to competition among student-athletes in the college education market. The case noted that the names, images and likenesses of student-athletes have been reproduced for commercial purposes for which the NCAA had barred any compensation. The court, however, rejected proposed remedies for violation and left NCAA’s controversial “amateurism” system in place.
The resolution instructs the state’s nine public universities to work with their respective athletic conferences in opposition to the rules and to implement a system which is fair to student-athletes, according to the press release.
“I have always been an advocate, that if others are making millions of dollars off our student-athletes, our student-athletes should be compensated as well,” said Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis).
“In 2014, I introduced House Bill 2147 that would compensate student-athletes, and I will be reintroducing legislation on this next year.”
“These student-athletes are primarily responsible for college sports’ popularity upon which universities award multi-million contracts to coaches and administrators, as well as extremely lucrative contracts negotiated by universities and conferences with television, radio, and internet networks. I look forward to presenting this resolution to the Senate for consideration and hope it will have a big impact to modernize these rules moving forward,” Kelsey said.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Brian Kelsey” by Brian Kelsey. Background Photo “NCAA Headquarters” by Nick Juhasz. CC BY-SA 3.0.