H.R 5528 aka CACIA Act of 2019 proposed by Rep. Donna Shalala to establish a Congressional Advisory Commission to investigate the relationship between institutions of higher education and intercollegiate athletic programs, and for other purposes." The findings listed in Section 2 lists several statements of fact many pertaining to the finance of college athletics. Some are mundane others propaganda (e.g. #7 and use of the term subsidize). The findings collection is not convincing of problem necessitating a federal commission. Importantly, the bill fails to address the fundamental failures of the current system. That being that the denial of basic property rights to athletes participating in intercollegiate sports.
The bill's crux is presented (Section 3) with the cynically vague [Commission shall] "review policies maintained by athletic governance associations and institutions of higher education with respect to ensuring that student athletes can succeed in academics and athletics." The NCAA's convention of entangling education and athletics to the detriment of athlete rights is clearly maintained. Note using NCAA's paternalistic term "student athlete" (sans hyphen), propaganda devised to help deny the right to an athlete's workman's compensation claim. The laundry list specifying the commission's duties, poses some fairly usual concerns and critiques of college sports; proposing it look into academic integrity, athlete safety and heath care, Title IX compliance, recruiting excesses, financial transparency, etc. Some things among those listed will appease reformers. But the list is one symptoms not its causes, and is at once in lock step with the NCAA, which is in fact demanding federal legislation, lobbying hard to let it off the hook from laws that apply to all else.
This bill is representative of the NCAA lobby. On the surface it's beneficial, or innocuous at worst. However, there are plenty reasons to be skeptical and see the lack of challenge to the NCAA's denial of rights for athletes and potential college athletes as a major red flag. NCAA amateurism rules force athletes sacrifice all of their rights to negotiate or profit from the value of their human capital, and the property rights to their Name Image Likeness (NIL) as under challenge by state laws - CA & others. If amateur policy were addressed and corrected, many of the symptomatic problems would also be fixed. The bill does not consider questioning amateurism nor promise any review as to why standard federal antitrust, employment and labor law are not applied to the NCAA.
Rep. Shalala is a former Univ. president/chancellor at two Power Five institutions Wisconsin and University of Miami. To think that the bill contains anything to challenge her peers in Higher Ed is senseless. Much was made of reform potential when the athletic directors ceded NCAA control to presidents 20 years ago.The presidents of course had the same incentives as athletic directors. That is to grow the revenue/publicity of their sports programs & maintain the unlawful limit on the economic rights of athletes. Lots of lip service then about the academic mission. Nothing that mattered changed.
The expectations for change should be exactly the same for the Commission. However, more likely is this bill will open the door to a recommendation, and then an outcome, that will make meaningful reform in the future all but impossible. The bill itself does not mention the sought-after antitrust exemption. Yet, do not think that is not a primary goal as a solution to the listed concerns.
The Drake Group presents themselves as a primary influencer of this legislation and is doubtless lobbying for seats on the Commission. The Drake Group (and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics) have a long and consistent policy position against fair compensation of college athletes. Drake has pushed an antitrust exemption for the NCAA to ensure that proscriptions on compensation cannot be challenged to fix what they believe is a distorted role of athletics in academia. Much of the concern about finances reflected in this bill is right out of the Drake/Knight playbook- i.e. suggesting that the primary problem is misallocated collection and distribution of funds.
Those misallocation problems typically identified as overspending on coach salaries and athletic facilities are mitigated if antitrust (Sherman Act) is applied and reallocated toward athletes. An antitrust exemption will simply shift the misallocation of resources elsewhere. The university president and athletic directors, who control the NCAA, want an antitrust exemption, not only because it takes away challenges to athlete compensation, but it also solves their prisoners' dilemma on coaches' pay. Of course, they would rather pay coaches less too. But it is a dream to think savings in coach pay (or facility investments) would be instead allocated to improve athlete welfare with anything other than nominal changes.