Owens, Kustoff, and Harder Introduce Bipartisan NCAA Accountability Act

Sep 18, 2023
Congress
Press

WASHINGTON – Reps. Burgess Owens (UT-04), David Kustoff (TN-08), and Josh Harder (CA-10) introduced the NCAA Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation to establish due process protections for universities and individuals under investigation by the NCAA for rule infractions. 

“The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has consistently wielded unchecked authority, exploitative behavior, and unfair disciplinary power over America’s student-athletes, coaches, and universities, violating their right to due process,” said Rep. Owens. “I’m proud to join Reps. Kustoff and Harder to champion the NCAA Accountability Act, our bill to level the playing field and ensure unbiased, transparent investigation proceedings in college sports.”  

“College sports play an important role in American life; they bring people together and contribute to many local economies across the country,” said Rep. Kustoff. “Unfortunately, the NCAA has nearly omnipotent power over college athletics and a pattern of unfair treatment towards its members. It is time Congress holds them accountable. This bill will provide the necessary due process, transparency, and fairness needed to protect our universities and student-athletes.”

“Our Central Valley student athletes compete at the highest levels of college sports across the country and go on to be some of the greatest professional athletes,” said Rep. Harder. “They deserve protections, especially when they’re expected to balance their education and sports careers at the same time. This bill will do right by them, their coaches, and their universities.”

Background:

With nearly 1,100 member universities and 460,000 student athletes, the NCAA is the largest collegiate athletic association in the U.S. It governs the athletic programs of and competition between member universities. Through its monopoly power and lack of oversight, the NCAA investigates and punishes its members with little regard for fairness, due process, or transparency. Its rules are irregularly enforced, and its investigations lack established procedures. Further, the NCAA punishes universities inconsistently and unpredictably.

The NCAA Accountability Act will:

Due Process: 

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

Fairness, Consistency, Accountability: 

  • Provide 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. 
  • Require 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 severity of the infraction and the institution’s history of infractions. 
  • Direct 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:

  • Direct the DOJ to establish supervisory and investigatory procedures to determine the NCAA’s compliance with this bill. 
  • Authorize 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. 
  • Authorize the DOJ to order the permanent removal of any member on the NCAA’s Board of Governors. 

Click here to read the full text of the bill. 

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