It's no secret that the NCAA doesn't usually act in the interest of the student athletes they govern. After the tragic death of University of Maryland offensive lineman, Jordan McNair, one Maryland state delegate and former college athlete took it upon herself to provide a way for college athletes to protect themselves. Del. Brooke Lierman introduce HB 548 which would grant college athletes the right to collectively bargain with the university.
Executive Director, Brian Hess, testified in support of this bill:
"This bill is a great way to begin the conversation about the treatment of college athletes. The NCAA, sports apparel and merchandise companies, and media conglomerates earns billions of dollars in sports-related revenue each year, yet professes to operate in the name of so-called “amateurism.” While college athletic programs often help students gain a college education, they too often extract economic gains from athletes while denying those young men and women a real chance to complete their degrees or otherwise share in the bounty created by the athletes’ own blood, sweat, and tears.
Personally, when I was an undergraduate student at a public university, I tutored college athletes in the evenings. What I witnessed was appalling. The hours alone that my students had to dedicate to workouts, practice, and other team activities left them no time for academics. I watched as my students struggled to keep up with required homework assignments and to perform in the classroom. It was tough to watch because I was also restricted as to the services I could provide. I was only allowed to meet with them at certain times and was prohibited from offering too much assistance on homework. Outside of tutoring, if I saw one of my students walking in the rain across campus, I was strictly forbidden from offering them a ride in my car as that would be seen as “a gift based on their status.” In other words, I have seen first-hand the gap between what athletes provide to a state university and what that university offers in return. Mine is not an isolated experience.
Why are fans, through my organization, advocating to grant college athletes the right to collectively bargain? The answer is simple. When an athlete’s morale is high, his or her performance on the field is similarly strong. As fans we want our athletes to be safe, healthy, and happy. Collective bargaining would empower college athletes, protect them from multi-billion dollar corporate bullies, and provide the kind of educational opportunity these athletes were promised. Not only would this improve the lives of Maryland college athletes, it would boost the performance of Maryland’s college teams."
You can watch the entire hearing here (starting at 2:31:45).