Owens, Kustoff, and Harder Introduce Bipartisan NCAA Accountability Act

Nov 02, 2021
Congress
Press

Establishes due process protections for student-athletes, coaches, and universities that are under investigation by the NCAA for rule violations

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Burgess Owens (UT-04), David Kustoff (TN-08), and Josh Harder (CA-10) introduced the bipartisan NCAA Accountability Act. This bill establishes due process protections for universities and individuals under investigation by the NCAA for rule infractions.

“The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has long wielded unchecked and unfair disciplinary power over America’s student-athletes, coaches, and universities,” said Rep. Owens. “The NCAA Accountability Act is a commonsense charge to level the playing field by eliminating favoritism and bias in college athletics through increased transparency in rule enforcement and due process protections.”

“The NCAA’s infractions process is systemically flawed. The NCAA writes the rules, enforces the rules, and punishes universities at will. Essentially, the NCAA acts as the prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner over college athletics. This unchecked authority and exploitative behavior has ruined careers, harmed the U.S. education system, and caused great economic damage to local communities,” said Rep. Kustoff. “The NCAA offers its members little due process protections. Its rules are irregularly enforced, and its investigations lack established procedures. Further, the NCAA punishes universities inconsistently and unpredictably. My bill, the NCAA Accountability Act, provides protection for universities and student-athletes in the form of due process, transparency, and fairness during enforcement proceedings. I look forward to the quick passage of this important bill.”

“Our Central Valley student-athletes compete at the highest level of college sports and make our whole community proud,” said Rep. Harder. “This bill will do right by them, their coaches, and their universities. It’s time we deliver them the protections they deserve.” 

Background on the NCAA Accountability Act

Due Process:

  • Requires the NCAA to provide its member universities with fair notice regarding enforcement proceedings. 
  • Requires the NCAA to complete any investigation no later than one year after it begins. 
  • Establishes a two-year statute of limitations. 
  • Prohibits information from confidential sources from being offered into the NCAA’s enforcement decisions. 
  • Prohibits the NCAA from publicly disclosing information relating to an ongoing investigation until formal charges are filed. 

Fairness, Consistency, Accountability:

  • Provides member universities the right to resolve disputes (over sanctions for bylaw infractions) with the NCAA through arbitration. The 3-person arbitration panel will provide an independent, unbiased review and legally binding decision. 
  • Requires the NCAA to conduct its enforcement proceedings and investigations in a fair and consistent manner. The penalties issued against member institutions for bylaw infractions shall be equitable with respect to the severity of the infraction and the institution’s history of infractions. 
  • Directs the NCAA to submit an annual report to the DOJ summarizing its enforcement proceedings. The NCAA must also submit separate reports to each state’s Attorney General summarizing its interactions with member universities headquartered in their respective states. 

Enforcement:

  • Directs the DOJ to establish supervisory and investigatory procedures to determine the NCAA’s compliance with this bill. 
  • Authorizes the DOJ, through an administrative law judge, to fine the NCAA or individuals on staff up to $15,000,000 for violating the provisions of this bill. 
  • Authorizes the DOJ to order the permanent removal of any member on the NCAA’s Board of Governors.

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