Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation Tuesday to prohibit colleges from forcing athletes to sign coronavirus liability waivers as they return to campus.
CBS Sports reported Monday that Blumenthal and Booker drafted the bill after sending a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert last week expressing “grave concern” for athletes being forced “to sign away their right to hold their school accountable.”
Colleges across the country have asked student athletes to sign these waivers that protect schools from lawsuits if a player contracts the coronavirus. The waivers emerged shortly after college football programs first began welcoming athletes back for voluntary workouts. Ohio State, SMU, Indiana, Iowa and others have asked players to sign waivers or “pledges” in order to begin workouts.
Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger examined the growing concern over the waivers because the players, who do not have legal representation, are agreeing to waive their legal rights. If athletes don’t sign the waivers or don’t abide by its terms, they are barred from practice, kept from practice facilities and risk being cut from their teams. Some worry those factors could cause athletes to risk losing their scholarships.
As college football teams return to campuses, some teams have seen high numbers of although testing positive for COVID-19, although many are asymptomatic. Earlier this month, Houston suspended all voluntary workouts for football and men’s and women’s basketball after six students tested positive. Clemson’s football program has recorded 37 coronavirus cases over the past month. As of last Friday, the school’s athletic program had a total of 47 positive results after conducting 430 tests since June 1.
Due to coronavirus concerns, Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson told his players that all activities are voluntary. If a Deamon Deacons player chooses to sit out the season due to COVID-19 concerns, he guaranteed all scholarships will be honored. Clawson plans to isolate from his wife, Catherine, a cancer survivor, for the entire season. Doctors said Catherine Clawson’s reduced white blood cell count put her at a higher risk for complications if she contracted the coronavirus.