Updated: Jul 20, 2022
The NCAA’s infractions process has long been criticized for lengthy investigations, selective enforcement, and arbitrary and disproportionate punishments. Two U.S. Senators, Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) and Cory Booker (D., N.J.), introduced a legislative bill to significantly change the NCAA’s infractions process.
The NCAA Accountability Act of 2021, proposed by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) and Cory Booker (D., N.J.), is a 10-page bill that, if passed, would streamline the NCAA’s infractions process by establishing deadlines for completing inquiries and investigations, shortening the statute of limitations for investigating infractions, and creating a new appeals procedure.
Key highlights from the bipartisan bill include:
Establishing a deadline for the NCAA to provide a notice of allegations within eight months after the school is notified it is under investigation.
Shortening the statute of limitations to investigate NCAA infractions from four years to two years.
Mandating the NCAA to hold a hearing on the infractions case not earlier than 60 days after a notice of the allegations are received or later than a year after the notice is provided.
Prohibiting the submission of information from “confidential sources” as evidence for a case.
Allowing a school to request a three-person panel of arbitrators to review and adjust any disputed punishments.
Requiring the NCAA to submit an annual report to the U.S. attorney general and each state’s attorney general, summarizing its enforcement proceedings, investigations, and issuance of punishments.
Empowering the U.S. attorney general and the Department of Justice to establish procedures for filing complaints against the NCAA and to conduct hearings and procedures for the NCAA’s violations of the Act.
Authorizing the Department of Justice to remove any member of the NCAA’s Board of Governors and to order the NCAA to pay a civil penalty of up to $15 million for violations of the Act.
The NCAA Accountability Act of 2021 is the most recent legislation proposed by lawmakers to address the problems with the NCAA’s infractions process. The bill is similar to the NCAA Accountability Act of 2021, which was introduced in November 2021 by members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the past two years, more than half a dozen bills to reform college sports have been proposed in Congress.
Ryan Whelpley is an Associate at Morse in Waltham, Massachusetts, where he is a member of the firm’s Corporate Practice Group and focuses on venture capital financings, M&A transactions, and general corporate work for startup and emerging growth companies. He is a graduate of Albany Law School (2019) and Union College (2016). At Union, Ryan was a member and three-year captain of the Men’s Basketball Team. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.