NCPA President's Open Letter to NCAA President

NCPA President Ramogi Huma calls for a portion new TV revenues to fund comprehensive reform to increase graduation rates, decrease NCAA scandals, and provide basic protections for college athletes beginning this fall - requests meeting with NCAA President

NCPA President Ramogi Huma
September 23, 2011

Dear Mr. Emmert,

As you may know, The National College Players Association (NCPA) partnered with the Drexel University Department of Sport Management to produce a joint study called the “Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport” (included with this letter).  Among other things, the study calls for intervention by the federal government to bring forth comprehensive reform in NCAA sports.  This was based in part on the Knight Commission’s interviews with 95 of 119 FBS college presidents about their thoughts on college sports reform.  The Knight Commission concluded, “In sum, presidents would like serious change but don’t see themselves as the force for the changes needed, nor have they identified an alternative force they believe could be effective.”

After its retreat with many college presidents in August, the NCAA announced that reforms to address major problems in college sports could occur in October of this year.  It is my sincere hope that the college presidents have found the resolve to implement much needed reforms.  What is certain, in terms of our call for federal intervention, is that college presidents will either prove us right or they will prove us wrong.  I hope that they prove us wrong and bring forth comprehensive reform this fall.  You have also stated your desire for the college presidents to implement comprehensive reform with creative ideas instead of mere tweaks to the current system.

For over ten years, the NCPA has been fighting for a multiple year scholarship option and for colleges to increase their scholarships equal to the cost of attendance.  I am pleased to see college presidents finally put these options on the table.  I cannot stress enough that these reforms should be adopted immediately because college athletes are in urgent need for some financial relief as well as security in knowing that an injury will not jeopardize their education.  The scholarship increases should not be optional, they should be funded with a portion of new TV revenues.

Despite the college presidents’ consideration of these important reforms, too much seems to be left unaddressed.  Too many college athletes are left to pay sports-related medical bills while their coaches are paid million dollar salaries.  Fired coaches get million dollar golden parachutes while permanently injured players are left without financial assistance during a lifetime of medical issues.  While the college presidents are signaling aggressive action in tracking down infractions concerning whether or not a player receives a free pair of shoes, there is no indication of an aggressive program to help prevent, identify, and properly treat concussions.  Lucrative conference realignments are taking place that will increase the athletic time demands of football and basketball players whose graduation rates hover around 50%.  Basketball players who earn a spot in the NCAA’s March Madness Tournament barely see a classroom because the NCAA schedules the post-season games according to lucrative TV networks’ schedules instead of the players’ academic schedules.

These problems encompass some of the issues that should be addressed in a comprehensive reform effort.  With hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue entering NCAA sports via new TV deals, the NCAA and its member institutions have a responsibility to finally address some of the key problems plaguing college sports.  

It would be entirely unacceptable for the NCAA and its colleges to direct all of the new money into coaches’ and athletic administrators’ salaries, stadiums, and to increase the payouts to teams that do well in the football and basketball post-season.

If the NCAA’s mission is to educate college athletes while maintaining the integrity of institutions of higher education, then football and basketball players’ poor graduation rates and ongoing high profile violations are strong evidence that the NCAA’s model of amateurism has failed.  Our joint study puts forth recommendations for a new model of amateur NCAA sports that uses new revenues to support and incentivize football and basketball players in their pursuit of earning their degree.  It also recommends the adoption of the Olympic model in which amateur athletes can pursue commercial opportunities which, if implemented properly, would minimize NCAA infractions.  

While there are many problems throughout NCAA sports, there are also many solutions.  I am requesting a meeting with you as soon as your schedule allows to discuss additional ways to bring forth comprehensive reform in NCAA sports in October.  


Ramogi Huma

NCPA President