Colleges are Having Athletes Sign Waivers to Practice

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As college athletes, and college football specifically, start returning to practice, schools are having athletes sign waivers to prevent any liability should the athletes contract COVID-19 while there. Is this the new normal? And is this even enforceable? 

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John Garcia: As college football players from across the country return to their campuses, of course, waivers are now the topic of discussion as they look to resume athletic activity. To bring in more on this, Ross Dellinger of Sports Illustrated penned a great piece this week. Ross, is this just another power play from college football coaches and administrators? 

Ross Dellenger: You know, it depends on who you who you talk to in the sports law world. You know, attorneys have differing opinions on exactly what these waivers are. Many of them might not be enforceable at all. But many schools are doing it. They're requiring their their athletes to basically sign a liability waiver. Many of them saying, you know, I won't sue you if I get coronavirus, basically, and we're gonna be seeing these things throughout society, even in, you know, maybe a hair salon or a gym, you might have to now sign a waiver signing away, you know, your rights to to sue that business. You know, I think these colleges are doing something similar, but are they enforceable? And again, to your question. Are they just another power play for colleges on, you know, athletes that are very young and some that don't have representation at all. So a few attorneys have called it scare tactics. You know, others refer to them as just faulty documents that are really unenforceable. 

John Garcia: Yeah, as we adjust to this new normal. One thing is clear from a long term perspective, these are not voluntary workouts that these college kids are participating in. So what does the NCAA do? What's their perspective? Is there a point that you expect them to step in and try to maybe make something uniform out of the waiver situation in relation to COVID? 

Ross Dellenger: Most attorneys I spoke with do believe that the NCAA should come up with some kind of codified uniform, whatever you want to call it, universal standard for these waivers. You know, each individual school doing it on their own might not be the best idea. You know, the federal and state governments are discussing proposals, considering things like that, you know, on a government level. But you do wonder if the NCAA is going to get together and have some kind of universal policy of its own or just protecting itself, the NCAA itself. You know, maybe individual schools will have each their own waiver and then the NCAA will have one overall waiver to protect itself. I can see that coming here in the near future.

John Garcia: One thing's for sure. Never a dull moment in this 2020 off season. Ross Dellenger, always on it for us at SI. Thanks so much.

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