Amid Tennessee NIL Fight, Blackburn & Booker Introduce Bill To Increase Accountability For NCAA Investigations

February 6, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) re-introduced the NCAA Accountability Act to establish due process protections for student-athletes, coaches, and universities that are under investigation by the NCAA for rule violations.

This comes as the states of Tennessee and Virginia have filed an antitrust case against the NCAA pertaining to name, image, likeness (NIL) after the organization opened an investigation into the University of Tennessee.

“The NCAA’s history of backroom deliberations that produce unfair punishments for athletes, coaches, and universities has gone on long enough,” said Senator Blackburn. “Student athletes work their entire lives to compete on the college stage, and we must ensure that they are properly compensated for their talents, not bogged down with frustrating investigations with an organization that continues to move the goal posts. The NCAA Accountability Act brings much-needed consistency and transparency to the NCAA, ensuring that everyone is operating under the same set of expectations for rule violations.”

“This legislation will increase fairness and transparency in the NCAA’s system for investigating potential rule violations,” said Senator Booker. “It will ensure that college athletes and schools are given the clarity, consistency, and strong due process protections they deserve.”


Establish Due Process:

  • Requires the NCAA to provide its member universities with fair notice regarding enforcement proceedings, including information about the status of the investigation, alleged violations being investigated, the involved individuals and programs, the potential penalties of each allegation, and the rights and resources available to the accused. The NCAA is required to provide this information through:
    • A notice of inquiry (when the NCAA opens an investigation into a member).
    • A notice of allegations (if the NCAA files formal charges).
  • Requires the NCAA complete any investigation no later than one year after it begins.
  • Prohibits the NCAA from publicly disclosing information relating to an ongoing investigation until formal charges are filed in the notice of allegations.

Promote Fairness, Consistency, Accountability:

  • Provides member universities the right to resolve disputes (over sanctions for bylaw infractions) with the NCAA through arbitration. The 3-person arbitration panel will provide an independent, unbiased review and legally binding decision.
  • Requires the NCAA to conduct its enforcement proceedings and investigations in a fair and consistent manner. The penalties issued against member institutions for bylaw infractions shall be equitable with respect to severity of the infraction.

Enable Enforcement:

  • Directs the DOJ to establish supervisory and investigatory procedures to determine the NCAA’s compliance with this bill. 
  • Authorizes the DOJ, through an administrative law judge, to fine the NCAA or individuals on staff (up to $15,000,000) for violating the provisions of this bill.
  • Authorizes the DOJ to order the removal of any member on the NCAA’s board of governors.

Evaluate Legal Standing:

  • Applies to any interstate athletic association, conference, or other organization with authority over intercollegiate athletics or that administers intercollegiate athletics, with at least 900 member institutions.

Click here for bill text.