A pair of House Democrats have lettered NCAA President Mark Emmert in the latest federal measure concerning his organization, requesting a handful of information regarding how academically prepared the NCAA ensures its student-athletes are.
Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) of the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote the letter to Emmert, including about 30 questions for him to answer. Included are probes about how he’s ensured another North Carolina will not happen and how the NCAA handles an apparent conflict of interest between making nearly $1 billion annually on its basketball tournaments with student-athletes missing so much class for it. The letter also notes Emmert’s annual compensation of over $1.6 million and the NCAA’s reliance of the term “student-athlete” to avoid “potential financial liability.” Furthermore, it cites a CNN report that said between 7 and 18 percent of student-athletes can read at an eighth grade level.
Here are some rather poignant excerpts:
“The onerous demands of NCAA athletic competition cause many student-athletes to make great sacrifices with respect to their education, while the schools and the NCAA reap huge financial windfalls.”
“College athletics offer wonderful opportunities for young men and women to obtain a quality education, but it’s also a $16 billion industry. Indeed, you have received more than $1.6 million in annual compensation as the president of this non-profit organization.”
“Given the huge amounts of money received by the NCAA and its member institutions, we believe you have a solemn obligation to support the academic goals of students just as vigorously as their goals on the track, court, or field.”
This isn’t Cárdenas’ first foray into NCAA dealings — he introduced legislation this past November that would require high-revenue programs to provide benefit packages to student-athletes. Add that legislation to a bipartisan proposal from Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) called the National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act, which includes a series of reforms regarding student-athlete payment and safety.
Congress has lettered Emmert before, too. A trio of senators asked him to divulge information regarding the NCAA’s partnerships and usage of student-athletes’ likenesses for profit in March. The House also held a meeting in the same month regarding Northwestern football’s unionization effort.
The representatives have requested the academic oversight information by June 9, which is the scheduled start date of an antitrust lawsuit regarding the NCAA’s use of likenesses and limits on what student-athletes can receive for their athletic efforts, according to USA Today.
Read the letter for yourself below.