Drake Members and Friends Asked to Get Involved

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TO: Friends and Members of the Drake Group
FROM: Gerald Gurney, President
RE: REQUEST FOR YOUR HELP: ADVOCATING FOR A PRESIDENT’S COMMISSION ON INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS REFORM

As you know, The Drake Group has been working on advancing bipartisan Congressional legislation that would result in significant reform of intercollegiate athletics.  We believe that Congressional intervention is necessary because the National Collegiate Athletic Association is not capable of self-reform.  Toward that end, we have been working with members of the House of Representatives to seek funding and approval for a U.S. President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Reform.   Initially, H.R. 275, a bill to establish such a commission, was proposed to the 114th Congress in January of 2015.  Since that time, H.R. 275 has been superseded by H.R. 2731, the National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act (“NCAA Act”) which contains all the President’s Commission elements of H.R. 275 but also contains several additional provisions mandating student health, athletics financial aid and institutional and individual due process protections.     H.R. 2731 was sponsored by Representative Charles W. Dent (PA-15-R) and is co-sponsored by Representatives Joyce Beatty [OH-3-D], Carlos Curbelo [FL-26-R], Michael M. Honda [CA-17-D], John Katko [NY-24-R], Bobby L. Rush [IL-1-D] and Glenn Thompson [PA-5-R].    The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  In order for the Committee to bring the bill to the floor of the House for a vote, more members of Congress are needed to sign on as co-sponsors.

If you are interested in helping and your Representative in the House is not one of the co-sponsors listed above, we ask that you visit the local district office of your Representative to personally ask that the Representative sign on as a co-sponsor.  A visit and face-to-face meeting with your Representative or his or her legislative aide is much more effective than an e-mail or a letter.  NOTE:  You must be a voting constituent of the Representative for the Representative to seriously consider your request for a meeting; most Representatives do not take meetings or accept correspondence from citizens who are not their constituents.  If you don’t know who your House Representative is, go to:  http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ and enter your home address into the form on this landing page.  This will pull up the emails for the offices of your two senators and one representative and will also list the Representative’s local office and phone number.

Prepare a one page formal request as a “leave behind” to give to the person you meet with.  Following is a sample. These are the talking points you would use during your meeting.   Feel free to revise in any way you deem appropriate.

TO: The Honorable [name of your Representative]
United States House of Representative
FROM: YOUR NAME, HOME ADDRESS, TELEPHONE AND EMAIL ADDRESS
RE: REQUEST FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE: H.R. 2731 National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act


REQUEST

Please consider signing on as a co-sponsor of a bi-partisan initiative, H.R. 2731 – The National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act (“NCAA Act”).  If you are willing to become a co-sponsor, please contact Sean Snyder, Legislative Director for Charlie Dent (PA-15-R), the sponsor of the bill, at 202-225-6411 or Sean.Snyder@mail.house.gov to indicate that you wish to be included as a co-sponsor.   Other co-sponsors to date are Representatives Joyce Beatty [OH-3-D], Carlos Curbelo [FL-26-R], Michael M. Honda [CA-17-D], John Katko [NY-24-R], Bobby L. Rush [IL-1-D] and Glenn Thompson [PA-5-R].   

WHAT WOULD H.R. 2731 REQUIRE?

In order to bring actual accountability to college athletics, the NCAA Act would prohibit universities from receiving Title IV funds if they participate in athletic associations, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association, when it does not implement and enforce specific rules related to student-athletes’ health, education, safety, and due process protections for alleged infractions of association by-laws.   Specifically, the bipartisan bill would:

  • Establish a Presidential Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics to review, analyze, and report to the President and Congress on the interaction of athletics and academics, the financing of intercollegiate athletics, the recruitment and retention of student athletes, oversight and governance practices, health and safety protections for student athletes, and due process and other protections related to the enforcement of student athlete rules and regulations;
  • Ensure greater accountability and transparency in the NCAA’s adjudication of infractions by providing institutions and student-athletes a level of certainty as to how the enforcement process will work;
  • Promote student health and safety by requiring mandatory concussion testing; and
  • Fulfill the original goal of college athletics by providing four-year athletic scholarships, instead of permitting the termination of an athletic scholarship after one year for non-academic reasons, to ensure the education of student athletes for the duration of their enrollment at an institution of higher education

WHY ARE THESE CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS NECESSARY?

Recent events pose grave threats to the financial stability and academic integrity of college athletics programs: 

  • the court’s decision in O’Bannon v. NCAA, which mandates $3,000 to $6,000 increases in the value of allowable athletics financial aid;
  • NCAA approval of autonomous decision-making power to 65 of its most commercialized athletic programs will escalate more expensive athletics practices;
  • in addition to major academic scandals at the University of North Carolina and Syracuse University revealed by the media, the NCAA reports that it has 20 academic misconduct cases currently under investigation, compared to just one last year;
  • an alarming escalation of coaches’ salaries inappropriate for non-profit educational institutions that enjoy significant tax preferences;
  • pressure to permit the award of salaries to Football Bowl Subdivision football and Division I men’s basketball college athletes in addition to their athletic scholarships is increasing; and
  • pending antitrust and concussion lawsuits represent potential multimillion dollar liabilities for the NCAA and its member institutions. 

Only 20 athletic programs among 1,076 NCAA members operate in the black and these data do not include capital costs (NCAA, 2014).   Absent comprehensive long-term solutions, most of the 326 NCAA Division I higher education institutions will be faced with the pressure to participate in a significant escalation of the football and men’s basketball “arms race.”   This means that all of these institutions will consider the following means to raise new funds or shift existing funds:  (1) increase general fund and/or mandatory student fee athletic program subsidies, (2) appeal to donors to increase their gifts to athletics at a time when such gifts are needed for the larger institution, (3) eliminate or further reduce funding for Olympic sports and (4) cease already insufficient efforts to achieve Title IX compliance for women’s athletics.  Pressure will also increase to obtain already stressed state education funds to supplement athletics.  

Worse still is that academic exploitation of college athletes and cheating scandals in Division I football and basketball programs continue at many of our nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities.  Eighty percent of Division I university presidents agree that they are no longer able to control their athletic programs (Knight Commission, 2009).  

These are serious higher education issues that demand unbiased and comprehensive examination and a level of public transparency that is best achieved by a bi-partisan blue ribbon Presidential Commission. 

Thank you for considering this request for your assistance   

References
Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.  (2009) Quantitative and Qualitative Research with Football Bowl Subdivision University Presidents on the Costs and Financing of Intercollegiate Athletics Report of Findings and Implications. Retrieve at:  http://www.knightcommissionmedia.org/images/President_Survey_FINAL.pdf
National Collegiate Athletic Association. (2014)  Revenues and Expenses:  NCAA Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Program Report.  Indianapolis, IN.  Retrieve at:  http://www.ncaapublications.com/p-4344-division-i-revenues-and-expenses-2004-2013.aspx 

Your involvement would be greatly appreciated.  If you have questions or would like to discuss approaching your Representative, please do not hesitate to call Donna Lopiano (516-380-1213 or Donna.Lopiano@gmail.com), a member of The Drake Group Board of Directors, who has agreed to coordinate this effort to seek additional co-sponsors for H.R. 2731.  Please let Donna know the results of your visit with your Representative or his/her legislative aide.  Also, you may wish to review the Drake position paper on the need for a President’s Commission.

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Categories: Advocacy

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