In the wake of the Ivy League announcing Wednesday that fall sports will not be held during the upcoming semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called on other college sports conferences to do the same.
“There's absolutely nothing different between the Ivy League and any division except for the money, to be very blunt,” Blumenthal told USA TODAY Sports. “It's about the money. And if the other schools fail to follow the Ivy League's lead, it will be only because of the money. And, in fact, it will be another misguided act in a long litany of putting school profits ahead of the people who play for them.”
Meanwhile, Chris Hinton, the leader of a newly formed parents group called College Football Parents 24/7, said Wednesday his organization has sent a letter to members of the NCAA’s top policy making group and athletics directors with a list of 22 questions it says its members are regularly asking regarding the conduct of sports amid the pandemic. For example, the first question asks, "Will our conference come up with uniformed requirements for all schools to adhere to regarding COVID."
The group posted the letter on its Twitter feed.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (Photo: Pool, Getty Images)
Blumenthal, who attended Harvard as an undergraduate and Yale for law school, frequently has been a critic of the NCAA and various aspects of major-college sports. He and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., recently introduced a bill that would make it illegal for schools to obtain liability waivers from athletes regarding COVID-19. The move was in reaction to a number schools asking players to sign documents that are explicitly, or could be interpreted as, liability waivers before allowing them to join voluntary on-campus workouts.
On Wednesday, Blumenthal called those waivers “an implicit recognition of the dangers (of) having those students come back.”
He called the Ivy League’s decision “absolutely right on moral and health grounds.”
He added that the Ivy League and other conferences are “all are dealing with the same health threats and the same age population and the same vulnerabilities when students play football and other sports that either involve contact or close proximity.”
Blumenthal also said he agreed with Senate Commerce Committee colleague Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., who during a hearing last week said the NCAA and its Division I schools should develop a single national strategy regarding testing and other approaches for dealing with a return to sports amid the pandemic.
“I agree completely,” he said. “There has to be a uniform national standard, not a patchwork of differing guidelines and practices. Protecting these young athletes ought to be a priority at this particular moment. You know, Dr. (Anthony) Fauci (director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) said we're still knee-deep in the pandemic. The only way I'd amend it is that we're neck deep in the pandemic.
"There may be differing infection and death rates across the country. But the vulnerability among college athletes playing team sports is the same everywhere. Let me put it this way: Colleges play football by the same rules. There ought to be no difference in the health care rules that govern whether they can play safely.”
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