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Marsha Blackburn, Cory Booker Introduce Legislation To Establish Due Process For NCAA Investigations

U.S. SenateWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the NCAA Accountability Act to establish due process protections for student-athletes, coaches, and universities that are under investigation by the NCAA for rule violations.

“The NCAA has a well-established history of back room deliberations that produce unfair punishments for athletes, coaches, and universities,” said Senator Blackburn. “With the emergence of new name, image, and likeness (NIL) rules, it is more important than ever to address the systematic failures that have eroded league fairness.”

“The NCAA Accountability Act will establish much-needed due process and shine a light on unfair treatment from NCAA leadership,”  Senator Blackburn stated.
“The NCAA has nearly absolute authority to investigate and punish member institutions and athletes who are accused of violating the Association’s rules,” said Senator Booker. “The process currently in place – where decisions are made behind closed doors, where investigations drag on for years, and where accused parties aren’t given adequate notice of their supposed violations – has gone on far too long. The NCAA Accountability Act would bring a new level of transparency, consistency, and fairness to a flawed process and is a critical first step toward justice for schools and athletes. I look forward to working with the NCAA in the future and helping address these issues.”

The NCAA Accountability Act Will:

Establish Due Process:

  • Requires the NCAA to provide its member universities with fair notice regarding enforcement proceedings, including information about: the status of the investigation, alleged violations being investigated, the involved individuals and programs, the potential penalties of each allegation, and the rights and resources available to the accused. The NCAA is required to provide this information through:
    • A notice of inquiry (when the NCAA opens an investigation into a member).
    • A notice of allegations (if the NCAA files formal charges).
  • Requires the NCAA complete any investigation no later than one year after it begins.
  • Prohibits the NCAA from publicly disclosing information relating to an ongoing investigation until formal charges are filed in the notice of allegations.

Promote Fairness, Consistency, Accountability:

  • Provides member universities the right to resolve disputes (over sanctions for bylaw infractions) with the NCAA through arbitration. The 3-person arbitration panel will provide an independent, unbiased review and legally binding decision.
  • Requires the NCAA to conduct its enforcement proceedings and investigations in a fair and consistent manner. The penalties issued against member institutions for bylaw infractions shall be equitable with respect to severity of the infraction.

Enable Enforcement:

  • Directs the DOJ to establish supervisory and investigatory procedures to determine the NCAA’s compliance with this bill.
  • Authorizes the DOJ, through an administrative law judge, to fine the NCAA or individuals on staff (up to $15,000,000) for violating the provisions of this bill.
  • Authorizes the DOJ to order the removal of any member on the NCAA’s board of governors.

Evaluate Legal Standing:

  • This legislation would apply to any interstate athletic association, conference, or other organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics or that administers intercollegiate athletics, with at least 900 member institutions.

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