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Rep. Burgess Owens recommits to NCAA reform

Owens is part of a bipartisan push to change the way the NCAA conducts investigations

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Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, speaks in Salt Lake City on Aug. 30, 2023.

Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, speaks during the Sutherland Institute’s 2023 Congressional Series at the University of Utah Hinckley Institute in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Rep. Burgess Owens has not given up his fight to reform the NCAA.

This week, he and two other congressional leaders, including a Democrat, reintroduced legislation that would make the NCAA’s investigations into schools, teams and athletes more transparent and, hopefully, more fair.

“The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has consistently wielded unchecked authority, exploitative behavior, and unfair disciplinary power over America’s student-athletes, coaches, and universities, violating their right to due process,” said Owens, a Republican from Utah’s 4th Congressional District, in a statement released Monday.

He continued, “I’m proud to join Reps. (David) Kustoff and (Josh) Harder to champion the NCAA Accountability Act, our bill to level the playing field and ensure unbiased, transparent investigation proceedings in college sports.”

The key goal of the bill is to create due process requirements for the NCAA’s investigations. It would do so by requiring NCAA investigators to:

  • Provide written notice to the programs or athletes being investigated within 60 days of being notified of a potential rule break.
  • Establish a statute of limitations of two years.
  • Provide details of the specific allegations being made within eight months of providing an initial notice of the investigation.
  • Keep the details of an investigation confidential until that point.
  • Schedule a hearing related to the investigation no sooner than 60 days after those details are provided.
  • Enable programs to seek arbitration amid disputes over punishments.
  • File an annual report on enforcement proceedings to the Justice Department.

The bill’s sponsors have said they want to ensure the NCAA is not biased in favor of high-profile programs.

A spokesperson for Kustoff, R-Tenn., noted in a conversation with Fox News Digital that the NCAA sometimes seems to protect top schools while punishing smaller ones, like when similar allegations led to no punishment for Duke University and a vacated season for the University of Memphis.

In Monday’s statement, Kustoff argued the bill would enable Congress to check the “nearly omnipotent power” of the NCAA.

“It is time Congress holds them accountable,” he said.

A spokesperson for the NCAA told Fox News Digital that NCAA leaders are willing to work with Congress to build a better future for student-athletes.

“There is clearly growing bipartisan interest in taking legislative action to create a stable, sustainable, and equitable foundation for future generations of student-athletes and we are committed to working with all stakeholders to get this done,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Owens, Kustoff and Harder, D-Calif., previously introduced a bill on the NCAA’s enforcement process in 2021, according to ESPN.