Congressional Student Athlete Protection Caucus


In August, 2014, U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) and Charles W. Dent (R-Penn.) announced the formation of the bipartisan Congressional Student-Athlete Protection Caucus. The Caucus was founded to both inform Congressional members about physical, academic and financial issues faced by student-athletes, and to ensure that all student-athletes participating in collegiate athletics are treated fairly and are provided with the educational promise that is at the heart of collegiate athletics.

Cárdenas and Dent intend the Caucus to be a forum to promote discussion, awareness, and education on issues facing today’s collegiate student-athletes.  More specifically, the Caucus will explore issues related to the overall health and well-being of the student athlete, along with current challenges facing student-athletes in maintaining scholarships upon beginning their academic career at a college or university.

“I am pleased to be a part of today’s Caucus formation with my colleague from California. It is my hope that we can continue to examine and address key issues facing our student-athletes. I want discussions driven by this Caucus to lead to greater accountability on the part of the NCAA,” said Dent.

In August 2013, Dent and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) introduced the National Collegiate Athletics Accountability (NCAA) Act, which would provide student-athletes with stronger concussion protections, mandatory four year scholarships, and ensure proper due process for student-athlete and university infractions.

Dent also joined with four other members of the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation to ask NCAA President Mark Emmert questions regarding the NCAA’s continued sanctions against The Pennsylvania State University.

“I am thrilled to join Congressman Dent in a bipartisan effort to ensure that the NCAA and its member institutions enact reforms for the betterment of student-athletes who they are expected to serve,” said Cárdenas. “I hope that in the coming weeks and months we will see more universities commit to 4 year cost of attendance scholarships, full medical expense protection and reaffirming their focus on giving student-athletes the same world-class education that non-athlete students receive.”

In November 2013, Cárdenas introduced the Collegiate Student Athlete Protection Act which also would create scholarship and concussion protections, while requiring universities to provide full medical coverage for student-athletes. 

Cárdenas also joined with U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) to ask NCAA President Mark Emmert a series of questions pertaining to academic, athletic and medical practices of member institutions.

Many of the changes sought by both members are currently under discussion by the PAC-12 athletic conference as well as the Big Ten conference.

The NCAA is expected to hold its annual Board of Governors meeting this month. The meeting provides an opportunity for the NCAA as a whole to adopt the changes being proposed by the PAC-12 and Big Ten. 

Both members hope the Caucus will have the opportunity to work with key stakeholders on improving the educational, financial, and physical well-being of student-athletes.

Mission Statement:

With the creation of the Collegiate Student-Athlete Protection Caucus, Congressman Tony Cárdenas [and Congressman Richard Dent] will provide leadership in the House of Representative to ensure that all student-athletes participating in collegiate athletics are treated fairly and are provided with the educational promise that is at the heart of collegiate athletics. Congressman Cardenas [and Congressman Dent] hope to use the caucus to bring together shareholders including University Officials, current and former student-athletes, reform advocates, and NCAA Officials to debate and discuss the best ways to provide student-athletes with the protections and benefits that they need to best use their athletic abilities to create a pathway to a better life. In fostering this debate the caucus will serve as a tool to better educate policy makers on collegiate student athlete related issues. The caucus is not specifically intended to endorse policy proposals or weigh in on every related issue, but is created to promote healthy discussion, awareness and education on these issues.

1) To ensure that student-athletes are being provided with the same world class educational opportunities as their non-athlete counterparts while respecting the inherent challenges athletic participation adds.

2) To ensure that universities place the necessary importance in protecting the health of their student-athletes whether that be in protecting them from future injuries or ensuring that the treatment of past injuries effectively treats the student-athletes while not leaving them with excessive financial burden. 

3) To continue oversight over the NCAA and member institutions to ensure that the best interests of student-athletes are being looked after and addressed in any and all changes to current practices.