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Reps. Shalala and Spano Introduce NCAA Commission Bill to Fully Examine the State of Intercollegiate Athletics

Washington, December 19, 2019 | Carlos Condarco (2022253931)
Tags: Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Ross Spano (R-FL) introduced the Congressional Advisory Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (CACIA) Act, bipartisan legislation that creates a Blue-ribbon Congressional Commission to identify and examine issues of national concern related to the conduct of intercollegiate athletics and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

“College sports, as overseen by the NCAA, have undergone a massive transformation in recent years. As profits, compensation for coaches, and spending on luxurious athletic facilities have ballooned, the association has repeatedly failed to address systemic problems with respect to the health and well-being of student athletes. The demands of year-round training, sacrificing study time and sleep to clock more hours at the gym, and pushing through exhaustion have taken a toll athletes’ physical and mental health,” said Rep. Shalala.

“Our higher education institutions receive a substantial amount of federal student support funding. There is little oversight, and as a result, we have little insight into how the funding is being spent and if the students’ best interests are being prioritized. This commission would fill that gap. College students deserve to have the best possible education, especially considering the cost. I’m excited to join Rep. Shalala in her effort to ensure that our students are being put first,” said Rep. Spano.

“A Congressional commission is needed to examine the complicated relationship of higher education and intercollegiate athletics in the 21st century. It is past time for an outside entity to do a top to bottom review of intercollegiate athletics to assess academic integrity, athlete safety, budgeting and spending, athletes’ rights and anti-trust issues just to name a few points a commission will consider and potentially issue recommendations and future legislation,” said David Ridpath, President of the Drake Group.

The CACIA Act will empower an independent commission to fully review, analyze and report back to Congress on the state of the NCAA and the athletic programs participating in intercollegiate sports. This legislation examines the interaction between athletics and academics, the financing of college sports, recruitment policies and retention practices for student athletes. Additionally, the bill further examines the NCAA’s policies on institutional oversight and governance, compensation, the health and safety protections for college athletes, due process and equal enforcement of rules.

Shalala continued, “We must address the extent to which higher education institutions, which are currently receiving over $130 billion in federal student support, are subsidizing athletic programs with little or no financial controls. It is time for Congress to intercede in order to protect college athletes and maintain the integrity of college sports once and for all.”

“Intercollegiate athletics is an iconic American enterprise that has become overly bureaucratized by over a century of whack-a-mole management. Since inception, we’ve legislated Band-Aid-fixes for chronic ailments with an organizational focus on optics rather than opportunity, legislation rather than education. It is time for data-driven decision making—for researchers, practitioners, and lawmakers to come together to address mounting legal and ethical issues of the past and present and fortify a path for the future,” said Erianne A. Weight, Director of the Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Intercollegiate athletics have been run by universities for too long, ignoring the interests of athletes. As an example, the NCAA formerly required universities  to show they were moving towards Title IX compliance, but Mark Emmert ceased these modest efforts on behalf of female student athletes shortly after he was hired. A sports Commission could result in checks and balances in America’s college sport system, for a more equitable system for all,” said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Founder of ChampionWomen.

Donna Shalala is a former three-time university president, having served as president of Hunter College, the University of Miami and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she oversaw dozens of intercollegiate athletic programs.

Read the full text of the CACIA Act HERE.

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