Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Representative Joyce Beatty (OH-3) introduced the National Collegiate Athletics Accountability (NCAA) Act to improve the health and education of student athletes and to require greater accountability and transparency from the NCAA.
The NCAA is the largest collegiate athletic association in the United States. Over 1,000 colleges and universities participate in the Association which holds significant power over 430,000 student athletes, and generates nearly $800 million in revenue per year.
The NCAA’s stated goal is to protect the welfare of the student athlete, with an “increased emphasis on both athletics and academic excellence.” Yet, examples of the NCAA inconsistent application of its member-created rules and standards are common news stories. Representative Dent and Beatty’s bill will benefit student athletes and schools by reforming the arbitrary and opaque enforcement process currently utilized by the NCAA.
To accomplish these goals, the NCAA Act will prohibit universities from receiving Title IV funds if they participate in athletic associations, like the NCAA, which do not implement and enforce specific rules related to student athletes’ health, education, and due process for alleged infractions of association bylaws.
Further, the NCAA Act will protect student athletes by requiring annual baseline concussion testing. As more data becomes available regarding the physical and mental consequences for those who suffer repeat concussive events, this legislation is needed more than ever to safeguard the health of young men and women engaged in collegiate sports. The NCAA Act also ensures the fair treatment of student athletes by requiring four year scholarships to be offered to certain student-athletes participating in contact/collision sports. Those athletes who are meeting academic performance standards will no longer be subject to losing their scholarships because they suffer an injury or there is a change in coaching philosophy, which means they no longer fit a system or a scheme.
Finally, the NCAA Act requires that due process be granted to student athletes and member institutions when accused of misconduct or a violation of association by laws. Due process includes, but is not limited to, the right to a formal hearing, better definitions of infractions, and a more clearly defined adjudicative process. The necessary extension of due process to those the NCAA decides to investigate makes sense both as a matter of legislative prudence and as a matter of basic fairness.
“I am so pleased to work with Representative Dent on this bipartisan legislation to improve the health and safety of collegiate athletes. The time has come for Congress to act to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the NCAA, provide certainty in the form of due process to students and universities in the adjudication of infractions, and, above all, protect the well-being of student-athletes. This bill will ensure that students – the individuals the NCAA is charged to protect – will, once again, come first in collegiate athletics,” Representative Beatty said.
“It is an honor to join with Representative Beatty in this effort to improve the safety and welfare of student athletes. The NCAA goals remain laudable, but the association has fallen farther and farther away from attaining them. As a result students and the institutions participating in the NCAA are suffering. It’s time that Congress took action to demand accountability, fairness, and transparency from the NCAA,” concluded Congressman Dent.
 The American Academy of Pediatrics defines collision/contact sports to include: Field hockey, Football, Ice hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, and Wrestling. See SSI Task Force Explains Issues, Challenges Around Concussions, Table 3, http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/NCAA/SSI/News/News+Archive/SSI+task+force+explores +issues,+challenges+around+concussions (last accessed Jul. 31, 2013); see also Recommendations for Participation in Contact Sports, American Academy of Pediatrics, Vol. 81 No. 5 Pediatrics 737 -39 (May 1, 1988) http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/81/5/737.full.pdf+html (last accessed Jul. 31, 2013).