Players Forcing NCAA Changes, Congressional Caucus Formed, Power Conference Autonomy Approved

August 7, 2014

Riverside, CA – The NCPA supports the formation of the Student-Athlete Protection Caucus created by US Congressmen Charlie Dent (R-Pa) and Tony Cardenas (D-Ca), which seeks to “ensure that all student-athletes participating in college athletics are treated fairly…”

Both Dent and Cardenas have proposed laws in Congress aimed at better protecting college athletes.  Cardenas introduced a bill based on the NCPA-sponsored “Student-Athletes Bill of Rights” that was approved by the state of California in 2012.

NCPA Executive Director Ramogi Huma stated, “It is encouraging to see members of Congress zero in on many of the issues we’ve been advocating for since 2001.  This caucus is a sign that the players’ voice is being heard and supported by people with the power to mandate change.”

In addition, the NCAA approved legislation today allowing the power conferences more autonomy to implement their own rules, which could lead to better protections for college athletes.  This vote was taken as an increasingly powerful players’ rights movement with players speaking against the NCAA publicly for denying players’ basic protections, demonstrating their discontent during televised football games as part of the “All Players United” campaign, launching serious lawsuits, and winning an NLRB decision affirming their employee status and right to unionize at Northwestern University.

“College athletes have been putting tremendous pressure on NCAA sports to eliminate unjust policies, and this vote demonstrates how much power players have when they stand up against this system,” stated Huma.

It remains to be seen whether or not the power conferences will be hamstrung by the same dysfunction that plagues the current NCAA governance structure or whether or not these conferences will actually make good on their stated intentions to better protect athletes.  The vote must still survive a 60-day veto period.

Huma stated, “We should also recognize that, while the conferences are holding up protections for players as the stated reason for additional autonomy, this move is not necessarily altruistic.  In fact, the conferences are free to implement many of the reforms being discussed without additional autonomy i.e. bolstering medical coverage, implementing real concussion reform, and extended scholarships for degree completion.  The autonomy has a lot to do with the fact that players have backed them into a corner as well as the money that the power conferences don’t want to share with the other Division I colleges.”

The NCPA has advocated for using a portion of new TV revenues to increase protections for players at schools throughout Division I, but the power conferences are instead moving to separate themselves, their revenues, and hence, the ability to provide better protections from the rest of Division I.