Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) are planning to propose a bill, called the College Athlete Pandemic Safety Act, that would eliminate the ability of higher education institutions to use liability waivers as a basis for student-athletes to return to campus for the participation in college/university sports. Several schools have required their student-athletes to sign waivers or “pledges” before returning to off-season training on campus. The draft legislation targets waivers that essentially force a student-athlete to choose between waiving litigation rights or risk losing their scholarships. The legislation also comes after many student-athletes nationwide tested positive for COVID-19 in the last month after summer training resumed on campuses.
The current draft of the College Athlete Pandemic Safety Act includes the following four stipulations:
- An institution cannot allow a student-athlete to agree to a waiver of liability regarding COVID-19.
- An institution cannot cancel a scholarship or financial aid for a student-athlete who refuses to participate because of COVID-19-related concerns.
- An institution must inform all student-athletes at the school when a student-athlete or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 but must keep the individual’s name who tests positive confidential.
- An institution must make sure that the athletic department adheres to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
This bill is still in the drafting stage and has not been formally introduced in the Senate. To ensure compliance if the bill is passed, it is important to stay up to date on its language as it is introduced and moves through the Senate and House of Representatives. Taft’s Higher Education group will continue to provide updates on this proposed legislation.
Please visit our COVID-19 Toolkit for all of Taft’s updates on the coronavirus.