NCAA Fails its own Exam

On Tuesday, January 3, 2023, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Transformation Committee, which had been charged with reshaping NCAA policies, released its 40-page final report.[1] The Report will next go to the Division I Board of Directors for consideration at the 2023 NCAA Convention in San Antonio next week.[2]

The Report details 34 review areas falling under six general categories. These categories include Student-Athlete Benefits; Membership Expectations (Student-Athlete Voice); General Membership Expectations; Decision Making and Governance; and Championships. (Summary of the issues can be found in the Addendum on pages 23-39 of the Report).

While none of the review areas included any in-depth recommendation for the lingering issues surrounding player compensation, page 21 of the Report provides insight to the NCAA’s plan of attack regarding these issues. In sum, the NCAA makes it clear that it has absolutely no intentions on moving forward alone regarding issues of student-athlete employment status, NIL, and revenue sharing. Moreover, the Report recommends that any advancement in these categories come directly from Congressional directives.

Specifically, page 21 reads, in relevant part:

“The contents of this report represent the deliberations, evaluations, and actions on some of the biggest challenges facing Division I athletics. In our time, we have made great strides in achieving that charge. However, many issues remained unaddressed.

In the vast majority of those cases – as it pertains to issues such as name, image, & likeness standards, the employment status of student-athletes, and the unique interests of student athletes in the highest revenue-generating athletic programs – this stems from legal and other uncertainties. The NCAA is prepared and eager to engage on these issues. There’s no question that finding fair, sustainable, and equitable resolutions to each issue will be essential to Division I’s future. We simply need a clear, stable framework under which to address them.

Congress is the only entity that can grant stability. Since the next phase of NCAA transformation will hinge on these issues, the NCAA has initiated and established a Board of Governors Subcommittee on Congressional Engagement. They will now take responsibility for the advancement of the unfinished pieces of the Transformation Committee’s work where the NCAA currently lacks the ability to self-impose changes on its own. The Subcommittee will also lead the NCAA’s strategy for engaging, motivating, and collaborating with Congress over the coming year.” id.

While news of the NCAA waiting for Congress’s help about player compensation is nothing new, it’s interesting to see the NCAA put forth a subcommittee designed to interact with Congress while Congress has remained silent. Unless the NCAA knows something that the rest of us simply don’t, it appears that the player compensation issues surrounding college sports will not be settled any time soon. Despite having decades to implement some sort of revenue sharing structure, the NCAA appears willing to wait while simultaneously pushing all its player compensation issues onto Congress to fix. A task Congress will likely also put on the backburner, especially as it currently spends its time wallowing in its own leadership vacuum.

Photo Credit.


[1] https://images.saymedia-content.com/.image/cs_srgb/MTk0OTA3MTk4ODU2MzczNzg0/final-ditc-report-with-addendum%E2%80%94123022.pdf

[2] https://www.si.com/college/2023/01/03/ncaa-tournament-expansion-recommendation-transformation

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President of the Buffalo Sports and Entertainment Law Society. Before law school, I coached college football at the University of Rochester for five seasons. I am excited to take these experiences, along with a legal education to make an impact on the ever-evolving landscape of college athletics. Thanks for reading our posts!

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