Ncaa Should Be Accountable

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 2, 2021
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KUSTOFF. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak about something that plays a special role in American life, and that is college athletics.

College sports is ingrained in our culture, and its impact is far- reaching on student-athletes, alumni, and their fans.

For decades, college athletics have been governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, more commonly known as the NCAA. The NCAA has tremendous power, really omnipotent power over college athletics. The NCAA decides the rules of play, who gets to play, and who gets the revenue.

Now, the NCAA investigates and penalizes any school, coach, or student-athlete that it claims infringes on its rules. This is what the NCAA calls the infractions process.

Let's be clear. The NCAA infraction process is systemically and fundamentally flawed. The NCAA's rules are vague, constantly changing, and irregularly enforced. The NCAA's investigations lack transparency and established procedures and are performed while universities are often kept in the dark.

Fundamentally, there is no due process for member schools nor for their students. The NCAA investigations can last years, and they cost universities millions of dollars in legal fees and other expenses.

Finally, the NCAA punishes universities and student-athletes with no consistency and no predictability. The NCAA may decide to punish one school but not another.

Without a doubt, the NCAA acts with little regard for fairness, due process, or transparency. Through its monopolistic power and lack of oversight, the NCAA has caused irreparable damage to athletic departments, to colleges, and to universities across the Nation.

That is why today I am introducing the NCAA Accountability Act with my colleagues, Representatives Burgess Owens and Josh Harder.

This bipartisan legislation will establish due process protections for any athlete, university, or individual going through the NCAA infraction process. These protections include fair notice on enforcement proceedings, a defined statute of limitations, and a deadline for the completion of investigations.

The NCAA Accountability Act also includes mechanisms to ensure that NCAA sanctions are equitable and fit the alleged infraction.

Universities will have the right to resolve punishment disputes with the NCAA through binding arbitration. This will bring an independent, unbiased voice into the process to ensure that an equitable outcome is obtained.

If the NCAA fails to comply with these obligations, the Department of Justice will have the authority to fine the NCAA and its staff, and the Department of Justice will have the power to permanently remove any member from the NCAA Board of Governors.

For our universities and our student-athletes, it is vital that Congress end the NCAA's long reign as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner over college athletics.

I urge my colleagues to support this important, bipartisan legislation that will finally hold the NCAA accountable.