U.S. senators demand answers from Power Five schools
Three U.S. senators continued their pressure on major-college athletics programs Thursday when they announced they have written a letter to the CEOs of each of the schools in the five power conferences, demanding responses to questions in 10 areas of athlete welfare.
The five-page letter, from Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), comes a little more than two months after the Senate Commerce Committee — which Rockefeller chairs — held a hearing in Washington at which NCAA President Mark Emmert appeared and absorbed criticism from a variety of committee members, including McCaskill and Booker.
The senators say in the letter they “have grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of meaningful progress by the NCAA and its member institutions” in addressing what they termed “weak protections currently given to student-athletes … under the auspices of the NCAA and its amateurism model” regarding health care, academics and financial coverage of athletes’ full cost of attending college.
Citing Emmert’s testimony concerning pending changes in the NCAA’s Division I governance structure that would give the power conference schools greater autonomy in rules making, the senators added, “We intend to monitor your progress to see whether the very schools and conferences that are often blamed for much of the problems plaguing intercollegiate athletics today effectively utilize the new flexibility you have been granted to implement meaningful reforms to better protect student-athletes.”
The senators asked each of the school CEO’s to provide responses to a lengthy and detailed list of questions by Oct. 17.
The questions cover areas, including:
•Awarding of multiyear athletic scholarships, which is allowed under NCAA rules but not widely done, according to survey published earlier this week by CBSSports.com.
•Provision of health care coverage to athletes.
•Adoption and enforcement of concussion protocols.
•Time limitations on athletes’ sports-related activities.
•Monitoring of athletes’ academic progress.
•Campus policies related to interpersonal violence, including but not limited to sexual assault and domestic violence, and schools’ support of policies prohibiting the involvement of athletics departments in the handling of allegations of such violence.
•The school’s position on allowing athletes to seek compensation “similar to how Olympic athletes are compensated.
“Some of the questions will require fairly detailed responses from the schools. For instance, regarding multiyear scholarships the senators want the schools to “explain any and all applicable qualifiers, conditions and limitations to such scholarships.” And regarding athletes’ health-care coverage, the senators want “details on the scope of the coverage, such as cost-sharing and the length of time such coverage will be provided.”
The senators also want each school to explain how it calculates the full cost of attendance — a figure that can be based on a wide array of variables.
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