This week, the NCAA Transformation Committee, a committee tasked with evaluating the division’s success in providing for the needs of student athletes, released a report detailing a series of far-reaching recommendations that would benefit the personal and professional lives of student athletes. The recommendations include expanded access to mental health resources, a greater voice for student athletes in decision making, medical coverage for injuries sustained during their time as college athletes which extends two years after their collegiate career has ended, and tuition support for up to ten years. The report also urges greater accountability for universities to ensure that they are providing students with support in the areas of academic success, career counseling, diversity training, sexual violence prevention, financial literacy, and ownership of their name and likeness, among other topics.
In the introduction to the report, the committee writes that “[s]tudent-athletes pour their hearts and souls into their studies and athletic pursuits and contribute to their universities in immeasurable ways. They deserve an experience worthy of their effort.” As a motivation for their proposed changes, the committee cites the rapidly changing and vastly divergent state laws governing the treatment of student athletes. The report is presented as a means of standardizing the policies that determine what benefits a Division I school should provide its athletes.
As reported by Inside Higher Education, the committee did not enter into controversies regarding the split between larger and wealthier programs from others in the league. While some had anticipated a proposal to split the Division into smaller groups with more bandwidth for self-governance based on programs’ financial endowments, the committee did not speak to these divisive issues. Addressing this absence, the committee stated that “[i]n the committee’s view — and in the view of most outside voices who joined us—breaking Division I apart would damage what is vital and essential about college sports.”
In the conclusion to their report, the Transformation Committee noted that many of the most consequential decisions about the fate of the Division are in the hands of governing bodies outside of their control. Speaking specifically about issues pertaining to name and likeness as well as compensation for student athletes above scholarship funds awarded, the committee writes that “Congress is the only entity that can grant that 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.”