CHICAGO – State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, continues to lead the charge for student athletes’ rights in Illinois, as today he introduced two measures: the Student Athletes Bill of Rights and first-of-its-kind anti-hazing legislation.
“As a former college football player, protecting Illinois student-athletes from exploitation, abuse and reckless hazing traditions is very personal to me. I know I’m not alone in saying my years in collegiate athletics taught me invaluable lessons that have served me well to this day. Unfortunately, the lack of protection and the prevalence of exploitation in the college athletics ranks has severely damaged student-athletes, their families and the institutions they represent,” Buckner said. “This legislation is centered on justice and wellness and will provide economic, educational and health protections as well as recourse for student-athletes against hazing and abuse.”
This landmark legislation is an extension of the economic rights that were enshrined by Buckner, Sen. Napoleon Harris and Speaker Welch with NIL legislation in 2021.
Together, House Bill 4252 and House Bill 4253 will create protections for Illinois student-athletes and provide recourse, education and accountability where it is sorely needed by:
- Cementing equity requirements for non-male athletes,
- Guaranteeing whistleblower protections and preventing retaliation when a student-athlete files a complaint and creates an independent ombudsmen position at each university that participates in sports,
- Funding sports-related post-graduation healthcare for all student-athletes through a medical trust fund that student-athletes can access to cover the costs of out-of-pocket medical expenses during their time as a student and for five years after their eligibility expires if used to treat a sport-related injury. Student-athletes can also draw from the Medical Trust Fund to treat certain long-term injuries, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),
- Creating the Illinois Commission on College Athletics to advise, research, and monitor all college sports-related issues, and
- Fighting to curtail hazing in college athletics.
“It is imperative that laws change in tandem with the ever-evolving collegiate athletic landscape,” said Justin Brantley, Athletes Rights Activist & Founder/CEO of Helium Sports, Inc. “The time for student-athletes’ protection, education and advocacy is long overdue. Though very few collegiate athletes will go on to play professionally, all can benefit from the lessons learned in athletics; both on and off the field, as they prepare for life beyond the game. With the knowledge that there are protections in place, student-athletes may concentrate on their four-plus year quest for academic and athletic excellence thanks to this legislation.”
“Every year students experience harm from hazing, including loss of life,” said Elizabeth Allen, CEO of StopHazing. “This legislation prioritizes transparency and commitment to education and student safety at school and in the communities, clubs, teams and organizations they choose to be a part of while at school.”