[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) released the following statement after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) prohibited member schools from requiring athletes to sign liability waivers exempting institutions from being held accountable for the spread of COVID-19. Blumenthal and Booker wrote NCAA President Mark Emmert requesting this action at the end of June, and introduced legislation to prohibit such liability waivers shortly afterwards.
Today’s NCAA announcement also requires schools to honor the scholarships of athletes who opt out of participating in sports due to COVID-19. Blumenthal and Booker’s bill would prohibit schools from canceling the scholarships of athletes who choose not to participate in a team activity out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
“This is the right move to protect athletes. COVID-19 liability waivers that put school profit over athlete welfare should be banned across the board, and no athlete should have to decide between their health and their education,” Blumenthal and Booker said. “For two months, athletes who were coerced into signing these waivers didn’t know what would happen if they got sick – would their schools be held accountable? Would they lose their scholarships? We need strong, clear, and enforceable standards that make athlete health and safety a non-negotiable priority.”