May 20, 2014




(Washington, DC)  – Today, U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert requesting information about the NCAA’s oversight of the academic preparation of student-athletes at its member colleges and universities.

The letter follows public reports suggesting that the NCAA oversees a system where its member institutions may be requiring student-athletes, particularly in high-revenue sports, to sacrifice their educational goals for the financial interests of college athletics. For example, CNN reported that between 7% and 18% of students in the basketball and football programs of more than 20 NCAA member schools could read no higher than at the eighth-grade level.

The Members wrote: “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. 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.”

Cárdenas added: “This letter is the first step in getting answers for parents across this country. Part of becoming a student-athlete is choosing a school where parents can be assured their sons and daughters will hone their athletic skill and advance their academic opportunity. We must be certain the NCAA is not allowing member schools to use athletics to override the promise of fulfilling that academic potential.”

Cárdenas and Cummings requested answers to a number of questions, including a detailed explanation for the NCAA’s claim last year that it “denies that it has a legal duty to protect student athletes,” despite NCAA’s annual revenue of more than $800 million derived from collegiate athletics.

Cárdenas and Cummings have requested a response from Emmert by June 9, 2014.

Last fall, Cárdenas introduced legislation that would require institutions that receive more than $10 million per year in media revenue to guarantee student-athletes a fair opportunity to earn a college degree within an appropriate timeframe.

Click HERE to read the full letter.