NCPA Calls on NCAA to Investigate Rampant COVID Safety Violations

NCPA calls for action after athletic trainer survey reveals less than half of college coaches and staff are abiding by their own COVID protocols.

September 23, 2020

The National College Players Association (NCPA) Executive Director Ramogi Huma sent NCAA President Mark Emmert a letter yesterday calling on the NCAA to investigate and hold athletic staff accountable for widespread COVID health and safety violations exposed by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA).  Last week, NATA published the results of a survey administered to athletic trainers across the nation finding that less than half of coaches and athletic staff are fully complying with their own COVID policies.

In August, the NCAA claimed that it adopted “mandatory” COVID health and safety standards and would allow complaints of violations to be made through a hotline.  The NCAA web page describing this complaint process states only that colleges and conferences will be contacted with the hope that they will address violations.

NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma stated, “There are two problems with this.  First, the standards are absolutely inadequate.  Second, there is no true enforcement of these so-called mandates.  This is what the NCAA does with health and safety.  It pretends its guidelines are mandatory but has no enforcement mechanism.  Imagine if the NCAA operated that way when it came to players receiving unapproved compensation.”

The NCAA has been silent on the NATA’s survey results as well as allegations that Colorado State football coaches discouraged their players from taking COVID tests and following quarantine procedures.  The NCAA has not announced investigations into either matter.

The NCAA will punish a coach if one of his players receives money, but won’t punish a coach for harming a player through sexual abuse, negligence, or purposely skirting COVID safety standards.

Widespread COVID outbreaks have occurred in athletic programs since the NCAA allowed players to return to campus in June without issuing and enforcing comprehensive, uniform COVID safety standards.  

Huma said, “Unless the NCAA acts swiftly, we can expect more game postponements and cancellations.  The NCAA is recklessly and unnecessarily putting both players’ health and its business interests at risk.  Why not resume college sports in the safest way possible?”

Years of previous NATA surveys and scandalous media headlines have offered proof of widespread noncompliance with health and safety guidelines among colleges nationwide.  However, for almost two decades, the NCAA has fought against the NCPA’s calls for the enforcement of mandatory health and safety standards to prevent sexual abuse, negligence, and death among college athletes.  The highly disruptive effect of COVID on NCAA sports is a reckoning for an industry that purposefully lacks a health and safety infrastructure and, without swift action, it will continue to take its toll on college athlete safety.

The letter to Mark Emmert also asks whether or not the NCAA is taking measures to keep college athletes informed about emerging information about COVID health risks so that they make an informed decision about opting out of athletics participation.