Student Well-Being

U.S. Senators Urge NCAA to Protect Student-Athletes From ‘Exploitation’

By Bryan Toporek — May 14, 2014 1 min read
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Three members of a U.S. Senate committee recently urged Mark Emmert, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to protect student-athletes from “exploitation.”

In a letter dated May 5, Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who are all members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, express concerns that the NCAA, which was “founded specifically to protect student-athletes from exploitation,” isn’t necessarily doing its job on that front. The association “in fact defers to member institutions on most matters, potentially leaving student-athletes vulnerable to the very abuses the NCAA was created to protect against,” the senators wrote.

They brought up the recent National Labor Relations Board ruling, which determined that certain Northwestern football players could be considered employees of their university, as evidence that the NCAA was falling short of its responsibilities.

“If the NCAA were accomplishing its mission of protecting student-athletes from exploitative practices those efforts would be unnecessary and likely unsuccessful,” the senators wrote in regard to the unionization effort.

Thus, the senators requested a heap of information from the NCAA and its member institutions to help determine whether collegiate student-athletes are adequately being protected from exploitation. They want the NCAA to provide details about the conditions and restrictions on athletic scholarships, rules regarding athletic eligibility and employment and/or income restrictions, “a summary of each disciplinary or enforcement action taken by the NCAA against a member institution or student-athlete since January 1, 2012,” and copies of all current NCAA policies related to financial transparency.

A spokesman for McCaskill told The Associated Press that the NCAA is required to respond to this request.

The Senate committee, which has jurisdiction over sports, will be holding a hearing in the coming weeks on “Promoting the Well-Being and Academic Success of College Athletes.” The hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday, per, but will now be held following the Memorial Day recess for Congress.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.