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Sen. Murphy hosts forum to improve the health and rights of college athletes

NCAA UConn NC State Basketball
Frank Franklin II
Associated Press
Connecticut forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) passes the ball against NC State forward Kayla Jones (25) during overtime of the East Regional final college basketball game of the NCAA women's tournament, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Bridgeport, Conn.

Two years ago, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) released documents showing how Division 1 institutions making millions of dollars annually from the work of its student athletes, who are severely limited in the money they make. This week he held a forum to follow up.

“This isn’t amateurs any longer,” Murphy said. “I mean, the commitment you need to make as a full-time athlete at a big D1 school is extraordinary.”

As the NCAA men’s and women’s Basketball tournaments prepare to hold their “Final Four” contests this weekend, fans will shell out big bucks to see the games. The profits from those ticket sales are spread out amongst the institutions taking part.

According to ticket resale marketplace Ticket Club, prices for the men’s event in New Orleans are ranging from $759 to a whopping $3,941, while tickets for the women’s event in Minnesota are going from $50 to $900.

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) said those figures make for a troubling issue in college sports.

“People are getting wealthy, while our athletes continue to struggle and not feel empowered to have a voice in anything — let alone how much money they make,” Bowman said. “So, we can’t have a healthy society and democracy in my opinion, without workers rights being front and center in that conversation.”

For years, the NCAA did not allow student-athletes to earn anything beyond their scholarships. That changed last year, when legislation introduced a rule that allows college athletes to profit off their personal brand, which consists of their name, image and likeness.

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) also spoke on the discrepancies between women’s and men’s sports when it comes to resources and believes the NCAA can fix it.

“Just imagine if the resources were put behind promoting everything that it would do for our women athletes and our sports and also for our daughters and granddaughters,’ Trahan said.

Trahan’s views align with this year being the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1972 Title IX civil right law. It prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives federal funding.

Mike Lyle is a former reporter and host at WSHU.