Congress Wants to Create Law That Changes How NCAA Investigates Member Schools

Adam WellsNovember 2, 2021

CHAMPAIGN, IL - APRIL 19: A NCAA logo is displayed on the floor during the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship on April 19, 2019, at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Members of Congress are attempting to create a new federal law that would change how the NCAA investigates and disciplines member schools that violate association rules. 

Per ESPN's Dan Murphy, Reps. David Kustoff, Burgess Owens and Josh Harder introduced a bill on Tuesday that "would create a statute of limitations on NCAA violations, place limits on how long the NCAA has to complete its investigations and give schools an option to appeal any sanctions they receive to a third-party arbitrator."

Kustoff told Murphy that the NCAA "is a monopoly with no oversight," but the proposed bill "sets up a framework" for the association to do its job "with more constraints."

According to Murphy, the proposed bill would make the NCAA discipline process more in line with the United States criminal justice system. 

"It includes a statute of limitations that would prohibit the NCAA from punishing a school for any violation that occurred more than two years earlier in an effort to avoid punishing current athletes for the misdeeds of others," Murphy wrote.

Schools would also have the ability to ask for a three-person panel of independent arbitrators "to review and adjust any punishments" deemed unfair by the institution. 

Under the current system, the NCAA does allow for an appeal in some situations to be heard by its Infractions Appeals Committee.

The seven-person committee is made up of two independent members not connected to any college or professional sports organization and the remaining five spots are filled out by people currently or previously on the staff of an active member institution or conference. 

On Monday, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports obtained a document signed by 74 athletic directors from FBS programs sent to the NCAA, recommending "sweeping changes" to the organization's enforcement model.

Key points in the document include "sunsetting" the Independent Accountability Resolution Process that was established in 2018 after the scandal from the previous year resulted in the FBI arresting and charging 10 people, including four college basketball coaches, on charges of fraud and corruption. 

Former Adidas executive James Gatto, former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Christian Dawkins, a middleman in the scheme, were all found guilty at trial. 

The document also noted the NCAA should "cite 'landmark' cases with major allegations to more effectively compare actions and set precedent."

It's unclear if the congressional bill, known as the NCAA Accountability Act, will be approved.