Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Student-athletes at colleges and universities nationwide would be covered by a "bill of rights" that guarantees compensation and other benefits under a proposal outlined Thursday by a group of Democratic senators.
The group, led Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said the legislation would also provide long-term healthcare, lifetime educational scholarships and more eligibility freedoms for athletes at NCAA member schools.
The plan, which does not yet have the backing of Republicans, is the most comprehensive effort yet to reform the NCAA, its authors say.
"The present state of college athletics is undeniably [exploitative]," Blumenthal tweeted. "We want to give college athletes the tools to protect their economic rights, pursue their education, prioritize their health/safety, and most critically, hold their schools and organizations like the NCAA accountable."
Booker, a former college football player at Stanford University, said he wants to roll the bill of rights into existing name, image and likeness (NIL), legislation that's now being crafted in both of chambers of Congress.
Booker said, however, the new proposal includes benefits that go well beyond NIL and contain legal remedies to ensure the NCAA follows through with reforms.
"We have to create a system that clearly the NCAA has not been willing to do on its own," he told USA Today. "We're talking to a lot of athletes who have painful stories. These are courageous young people who right now are speaking out -- and often facing retribution for speaking out -- about their basic rights."
Booker said the full proposal will be unveiled "in the coming months."
Co-authors of the bill include Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kirstin Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California, who was chosen Tuesday as Joe Biden's running mate on the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket.