Cory Booker Unveils Student-Athlete Compensation Plan

Senator Cory Booker has unveiled a plan that promises to pay college athletes if he is elected president.

The 2020 presidential candidate, a former football player at Stanford University, released a plan on October 10 to pay student-athletes. In his plan, Booker states that he will investigate potential violations of labor laws and use the Department of Education to provide stronger oversight of colleges and ensure they pay student-athletes fairly.

“Playing football at Stanford was one of the greatest opportunities of my life — that’s what it should be for all college athletes. But I also saw firsthand how players are exploited for profit. We can change that,” Booker wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Booker states the college sports industry is worth $14 billion, but the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) “amateurism” rules state that “colleges may only compensate athletes for the immediate costs associated with attending college, meaning that the individuals at the heart of this immensely profitable industry are not permitted to share in its success.”

“The unfairness of these rules extends beyond compensation; universities’ demands on players’ time result in many athletes — especially young Black men disproportionately represented in revenue-generating sports — often leaving school without an undergraduate degree and saddled with lifelong injuries and medical debt,” Booker writes in his plan.

If elected to office, Booker states that he will create the US Commission on Integrity in Sports, which will be comprised of current and former athletes, policy experts, academics, and administration officials from different agencies like the Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The board members would provide “ongoing oversight, strengthen accountability, and submit policy recommendations to Congress.” Booker’s plan will also allow for the compensation of college athletes for their “name, image, and likeness” rights.

In addition to helping student-athletes, the plan would expand opportunities for all professional athletes by improving gender equity and working to close the pay gap for women in sports. The Democratic candidate also committed his future administration to improving the pay and working conditions for minor league baseball players as well as putting an end to the exploitative labor policies facing NFL cheerleaders and NBA dancers.

“For decades, professional and college sports have engaged in exploitative practices of athletes — practices like discrimination, wage theft, and price fixing that would be unacceptable in other contexts and that most other workers would have the power to address,” Booker wrote.

“These unjust practices deny athletes the opportunity to benefit from their hard work and they don’t reflect our American values.”

Earlier this month, Booker announced he raised enough money to continue his presidential campaign after his staff told supporters that his campaign could end if it did not raise enough money by the end of September.

“I have some incredible news, team. Last night at 8:16 p.m., we reached our $1.7 million goal. I’m so grateful that at the most critical moment of this campaign, thousands of people in all 50 states came together to give us the boost we needed,” Booker previously wrote on Twitter.

“$1.7 million wasn’t just a goal — it was the real number we knew was necessary for us to continue building an organization that can take us all the way to the White House. We have what we need to grow, but let’s not stop now,” Booker continued.

On September 21, Booker’s campaign manager Addisu Demissie wrote in a memo on Medium to supporters and staff that he may be dropping out of the presidential race if the campaign did not raise $1.7 million by the end of September.

“Here’s the real talk: We have reached a critical moment, and time is running out. It’s now or never: The next 10 days will determine whether Cory Booker can stay in this race and compete to win the nomination,” the post read.

Booker admitted on Twitter that it may seem “unusual” for a presidential campaign to be so candid about its status, but he noted the memo was not released as a cheap stunt to garner last-minute support and fundraising.

“It’s an unusual move for a campaign like ours to be this transparent, but there can be no courage without vulnerability. I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory, but I can’t walk it alone,” Booker previously wrote in a Twitter thread.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.