New Maryland bill would give student athletes collective bargaining rights

A new bill in the Maryland general assembly looks to change how the state's student athletes are represented.

House Bill 548 calls on the state to establish a process for collective bargaining for student athletes who are part of the university system of Maryland.

The bill calls for four main points:
- Student athletes will be able to negotiate the terms of their scholarship
- They'll be given access to short-term and long-term health insurance and disability coverage
- Student athletes will be able to negotiate the usage of their image of likeness
- Institutions will be called on to establish an independent student athlete advocate

University of Maryland Student Body President Jonathan Allen has been working with Maryland State Delegate Brooke Lierman, who introduced the bill.

He says a bill like this is necessary.

"Especially given recent events at the university of Maryland and institutions across the nation such as Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, we've seen the inability of the NCAA, of these major institutions to protect the interest and well-being of student athletes. And so this would give them the ability to do so themselves," Allen said.

Allen goes on to say that this bill has the chance to pave the way for widespread reform for athletics reform in colleges and universities all across the country.

"If the state of Maryland would go ahead and do this they'd be the first in the nation to do so. What it does is that it really starts a conversation about something that we haven't been speaking about and that is the fair treatment of these college athletes. And so I'm hopeful that the general assembly would positively receive this at this session but it may take more than one try and I fully recognize that and it's crucial to start that conversation," Allen said.

The official hearing of the bill will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the Maryland House.

Allen says he'll be there to testify on the bill's behalf.

Officials at the University of Maryland say they are in the beginning phases of reading the buill and discussing its implications on the university system as a whole.

If the bill is passes, the university system will have to establish a system of collective bargaining by July 1, 2020.