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League of Fans Unveils Seven Educational, Ethical, and Safety-Based Reform Measures to Return Integrity to College Athletics

Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans organization is starting a campaign to make the NCAA live up to its stated purpose of integrating “intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”

“Big-time college sports is filled with hypocrisy,” said Nader, the League of Fans’ founder. “NCAA administrators, college and university presidents, athletic directors, and coaches constantly talk about their educational values and the importance of ‘student-athletes’ getting an education. But their actions speak louder than their words. Every decision they make seems to be driven by revenue-at-all-costs and win-at-all-costs motives, not educational ethos. That has to change.”

League of Fans proposes a set of seven recommendations designed to achieve two critical goals for college sports: 1) Enhanced academic integrity in college athletics; and 2) More fair, ethical, and safe treatment of college athletes.

Ken Reed, League of Fans’ sports policy director, said big-time college sports are at the precipice of collapsing under the weight of ego-and-greed-based policies and decision-making.

“Admittedly, it might be too late to salvage the current college sports system,” said Reed. “Today’s model might very well need to be scrapped. More drastic change may need to occur, including taking the steps necessary to possibly remove the non-profit, tax-exempt status our big-time, highly commercialized college athletic departments currently enjoy. However, we believe it’s worth a concerted, legitimate effort to save the original intent of college athletics: real students interested in making sports part of their overall educational experience while on campus.”

Reed said League of Fans is exploring a variety of possible options for testing the legitimacy of the tax-exempt status that big-time athletic departments operate under, including Congressional hearings, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation, and a lawsuit.

“Hopefully, it won’t come to going after the tax-exempt status of these commercialized and professionalized college athletic programs. Our hope is that these substantial reform recommendations – or measures very similar in nature – spur big-time NCAA Division I athletic programs to shift philosophically toward an education first, athletics second approach,” said Reed.

League of Fans’ seven recommendations include the following:

  • Protect Athletes From Overzealous Coaches By Either 1) Replacing the Existing One-Year Renewable/Revocable Scholarship With a 5-Year Scholarship; or 2) Eliminating the Athletic Scholarship Altogether
  • Require Athletic Scholarships to Cover the Full-Cost of College Attendance
  • Establish a Year-In-Residence Rule for Freshmen and Transfer Students
  • Cover All Sports-Related Medical Expenses for Athletes and Disallow the Pulling of Scholarships From Athletes Who Suffer Injuries While Engaged in Sports Activities For Their School
  • Develop Policies That Severely Limit Weekday Games
  • Implement Standard Safety Guidelines Across the NCAA to Prevent Avoidable Injuries, Illnesses and Deaths
  • Extend California’s “Student-Athlete’s Right to Know Act” (AB 2079) Across the Nation.

The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ tenth report. “College Sports: Where Do We Go From Here?,” from its Sports Manifesto Click here to read the full report: “College Sports: Where Do We Go From Here?”

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