Increasingly focused on collegiate sports during his second term in Congress, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., will host a forum Thursday on the “State of the Black Student Athlete in America” during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) in Washington DC.
Lawson, who played and coached college basketball, is hosting the forum to “examine the pressures and economic responsibilities black student athletes face, whether students are being prepared academically for life outside of sports, potential inequities between historically black institutions and other colleges, mental health awareness, the role of social activism and what happens after the game is over.
“College athletics is a multi-billion dollar business, and oftentimes, a black student athlete serves as the face for an institution where he or she may not otherwise have access,” Lawson said when he announced the forum earlier this week. “These young men and women are essential to the revenue generated by college athletic programs. That is why it is vital that we have conversations like these, with as many voices as possible – students, coaches, administrators, policymakers, if we truly want to see positive change.”
Panelists include Wanda Durant, the founder and CEO of the Real MVP Foundation; actor Timon Kyle Durrett who was a student athlete; former NFL player Vincent Fuller; Florida State University Basketball Coach Leonard Hamilton; Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association; Dr. Edward Scott, the athletic director at Morgan State; former NFL player and author Dr. Robert Turner; and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Vice President Stan Wilcox. Journalist Georgia Dawkins will moderate the event.
Back in April, Lawson hosted a panel discussion and screened a documentary on Capitol Hill which focused on “the plight of unpaid student-athletes in a multi-billion-dollar athletic enterprise.”
Also that month, Lawson brought out the “NCAA Act” which “would eliminate the ‘one and done’ rule, provide medical coverage for sports-related injuries, and create an easier process for student athletes to gain work opportunities while in school.” Lawson reeled in nine cosponsors including Democrat U.S. Reps. Alexandria Octavia-Cortez of New York, Ihan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Lawson’s proposal was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee where it has lingered since April. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. Senate.