Jay Allred writes for the Martin Center about increasing protections for student-athletes in the University of North Carolina system.

In college athletics, student-athletes have few protections against coaching demands that may put their health at risk. As the parent of a college athlete who was left with a chronic back injury, I was shocked to discover how state universities deprive their athletes of health care, injury and abuse protections, and information about athletic policies. Sadly, the problem goes beyond one bad coach or college—it is systemic.

In North Carolina, the General Assembly could become a national leader by establishing student-athlete protections and saving other athletes from enduring what my daughter went through as a golfer at East Carolina University. …

… Currently, no University of North Carolina system school has an athlete’s bill of rights or a coach’s code of conduct. The closest regulation is an NCAA bylaw on the student-athlete/coach relationship: “It is the responsibility of each member institution to establish and maintain an environment that fosters a positive relationship between the student-athlete and coach.” Other rules and postings on the NCAA site seem like they leave rules up to individual schools or lump them in with general rules about ethical conduct. In other industries with power imbalances, such as health care and prisons, policies of this nature are standard.

But a chance for reform may be in sight: In North Carolina, the General Assembly has realized this power imbalance is a problem and have created the Legislative Commission for the Fair Treatment of College Athletes. In its final report, the commission found that “independent oversight is needed to ensure consistent and fair treatment of student-athletes.”