Representatives Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania) and Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) have introduced the National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act (H.R. 2903) (, in a rare bi-partisan proposal. The Act, which would halt federal funds for colleges and universities refusing to take specified measures to protect student athletes and their schools in sports and academic activities, has been proposed as an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Asserting that the NCAA has a “disturbing amount of inconsistency” with its current enforcement process, the bill would mandate NCAA transparency and expand specific measures to force the NCAA to protect student-athletes and universities. Dent explained, “Profit and big business have trumped health, safety and educational achievements.  The time has come for the NCAA to get back to its original purpose.”

The bi-partisan legislation would restrict universities from receiving any federal funds pursuant to Title IV if they are members of athletic associations, such as the NCAA, that refuse to adopt the new rules. If the NCAA does not comply with the proposed legislation and refuses to modify existing rules, any college or university that continues to participate in NCAA competition would lose all Title IV funding, currently more than $140 billion annually.

Highlights of the bill introduced by Dent and Beatty include:

  • Mandatory annual baseline concussion tests for all college athletes participating in both contact and limited-contact sports
  • Required irrevocable four-year scholarship for athletes participating in contact/collision sports which guarantees the scholarship even in the event of loss of athletic skill or injury.  The Act defines contact/collision sports as boxing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rodeo, soccer and wrestling
  • A specific prohibition against any NCAA institution from implementing a policy which does not permit the payments of stipends to college athletes
  • Guarantees that all athletes and universities will have the opportunity for a formal administrative hearing prior to the implementation of any NCAA punishment for an alleged rules violation.
  • Guarantees the right for all punished parties to have at least one appeal of any proposed discipline and any other due process procedure the Secretary determines by regulation to be necessary.

Dent added that the bill would prevent the NCAA from penalizing institutions without a fair hearing. He continued, “In the case of Penn State, they would have had the benefit of an NCAA investigation. They never had one-not to mention an appeal.” Beatty, a first-term member of Congress, previously served as a senior vice president for outreach and engagement at Ohio State University. She stressed that her interest in providing more protections for student athletes came from watching players get injured.

Dent summarized his goal with the proposed legislation as “ending the NCAA’s kangaroo courts and providing due process rights for student-athletes and member institutions”. He concluded, “t(T)hese are our kids…(M)any athletes are afraid to admit to having suffered concussions or other injuries for fear that their scholarships will not be renewed. We owe it to them to take the proper corrective action.”

Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.