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Congressional commission proposed to address NCAA’s ‘systemic problems’

U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.)
Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) helped introduce legislation Thursday that would create a Congressional Advisory Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
(Jacquelyn Martin / Pool)

Two days after NCAA president Mark Emmert met with federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to solicit a uniform solution for name, image and likeness rights for college athletes, U.S. Reps. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) and Ross Spano (R-Fla.) introduced legislation Thursday that would create a Congressional Advisory Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Shalala, the former president of the University of Miami and the University of Wisconsin, said the commission would “identify and examine issues of national concern related to the conduct of intercollegiate athletics and the NCAA.” The commission, it appears, will go far beyond simply helping pave a way forward for college athletes to receive compensation.

“College sports, as overseen by the NCAA, have undergone a massive transformation in recent years,” Shalala said in a statement. “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.

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“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.”

The proposed commission would report to Congress on the NCAA and the 1,100 schools that comprise its membership, examining the interaction between athletics and academics, the financing of college sports and recruitment policies and retention practices for student athletes.

“Our higher education institutions receive a substantial amount of federal student support funding,” Spano said in a statement. “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.”


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