Sen. Cory Booker released a plan early Thursday on ending “exploitation in sports.”
The presidential candidate and junior senator from New Jersey was a high-school All-American and Division I football player at Stanford University. Booker’s plan follows in the footsteps of legislation released and signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom allowing college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness.
LeBron James, basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, praised the passage of that bill.
“I’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you,” James said in a tweet. “@GavinNewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @Uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 allowing college athletes to responsibly get paid.”
I’m so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you. @gavinnewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 allowing college athletes to responsibly get paid. pic.twitter.com/NZQGg6PY9d— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 30, 2019
Chad Maisel, deputy policy director for the Booker campaign, said although the California legislation played a role, Booker has been "thinking and talking about these issues for a long time."
"A lot of the problems and solutions that he outlined in the plan are things that he saw firsthand," Maisel said.
Booker’s plan also calls for college athletes to be “compensated” and for the establishment of a commission to “examine additional compensation models and unionization.”
“I think we’re kind of open-minded in terms of where that leads," Maisel said. "In general, what we’d want to see out of the commission were it to be created and enacted would not be particular compensation models but really giving athletes a voice and a seat at the table.”
In a statement, Booker's campaign said he would fight for legislation to ensure that all college athletes have the right to profit off their name, image and likeness rights and hire agents without penalty.
J.D. Scholten, the likely Democratic nominee for Iowa’s 4th congressional district, commented on Booker’s plan.
The plan further calls for requiring colleges and universities to comply with “aggressive, evidence-based and enforceable standards” to ensure the health and safety of NCAA athletes.
“The training and medical staff provided by schools today is not by itself sufficient — their priority is too often to keep the player in competition, not to keep the player safe,” Booker’s campaign said. “Consider that officials from Michigan State were cleared by the NCAA of any violations stemming from how they handled sexual assault allegations against former coach Larry Nassar, even as they face serious criminal charges.”
Booker would “require” colleges and universities to pay for their athletes’ medical treatment costs for injuries they received during college competition for “at least” 10 years after their eligibility at the institution and would direct his planned new commission “to make recommendations on how to better support college athletes who develop medical conditions that emerge outside the 10-year window.”
Beyond working toward financial compensation for college athletes and calling for enforceable health and safety standards, Booker’s plan highlights a proposal to improve gender equity in college athletics.
“Cory would strengthen what is deemed mandatory from schools to remain in compliance with Title IX by requiring that spending for athletes, including for financial aid, post-season awards, stipends and school-mediated group licensing funds be 'substantially proportionate' to its male-female participation ratio," Booker’s campaign said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke have called for paying student athletes during their presidential campaigns, though neither have released a detailed plan like Booker’s.