Jun 20th, 2021 |
27: Roger Wicker (R-MS) Leads Boycott of Athlete Hearing
On June 17th, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on name image and likeness and athletes’ rights. The Committee heard from four witnesses, all African American:
1. Martin McNair, whose son Jordan died in 2018 from heatstroke after a summer conditioning session;
2. Christina Chenault, a former UCLA track star;
3. Sari Cureton, a former Georgetown University women’s basketball player; and,
4. Kiara Brown, a current track and field athlete at Vanderbilt University.
All four witnesses support an athletes’ bill of rights that would require, among other things, essential health and safety protections for athletes. This hearing was the first among six Senate hearings since February 2020 (ostensibly devoted NIL “compensation”) to include athletes themselves. Of the ten Senators who participated in the hearing, nine were Democrats. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, was the only Republican at the hearing. Moran departed the hearing room soon after he asked a couple of questions. At an NCAA-friendly hearing just the week before, on June 9th, fourteen Senators participated. Eight were Republican. The absence of Republican participation amounted to a boycott of the hearing. Roger Wicker (R-MS), along with Moran, has been leading a last-ditch NCAA/Power 5/Republican charge to nullify the state NIL laws set to go into effect on July 1st, objected to the “haste” with which the hearing came about. Wicker and his allies, who controlled the Committee and the witness lists through the first four Senate hearings in 2020, failed to hold a hearing dedicated to athletes’ views on NIL or any of the athletes’ rights issues that arose through the NIL debate. Wicker’s boycott of the June 17th hearing is further evidence of Senate Republicans’ indifference to the rights, well-being, and opinions of athletes who disagree with the NCAA/Power 5 party-line. After the hearing, Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) told the media that there would not be a bill coming out of the Commerce Committee before July 1st. What will the NCAA/Power 5 do now?