Dems propose legislation to ban COVID-19 waivers for college athletes

Sen. Richard Blumenthal says forcing student athletes to sign these waivers is “the latest in a litany of unacceptable actions schools have taken to exploit these young people.”

Senators will introduce legislation that limits the ability of universities to issue liability waivers for their athletes to sign.

Two senators are expected to propose legislation that will prevent universities from making their student-athletes sign COVID-19 liability waivers. 

CBS Sports reported that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will introduce the “College Athlete Pandemic Safety Act” in an effort to keep colleges from having students sign such waivers as a condition for participation in sports.

According to a draft of the legislation as reported by Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group, universities will not be allowed to hold individuals to a waiver of liability for COVID-19, and they may not cancel a scholarship or financial aid for a student-athlete who chooses not to participate for safety concerns. Colleges will be required to report to all athletes if a student or a staff member tests positive, although the person will not be identified. Additionally, the CDC will be asked to issue directions for health and safety guidelines, which colleges must adhere to for their athletic departments. 

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Booker tweeted that the health and safety of college athletes should always be “paramount.” 

“Our bill would ban the use of #COVID19 liability waivers that would allow schools to avoid accountability and ensure they follow CDC guidance to keep their college athletes safe,” he said. 


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The bill comes as a response to universities that have recently announced they will require student-athletes to sign liability waivers. Southern Methodist University required its athletes to sign a waiver which asks students to assume responsibility for any risks related to COVID-19 and removes their right to litigation, according to Forbes

Ohio State University football players had to sign a pledge acknowledging COVID-19 risk when they returned to campus for workouts in June, Buckeye Extra reported

“Forcing college athletes to sign away their rights or risk losing their scholarships in the middle of a pandemic is just the latest in a litany of unacceptable actions schools have taken to exploit these young people,” Blumenthal said on Twitter.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mariatcopeland