A United States Senate committee hearing on college sports has been rescheduled for July 9 after it was postponed in May.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced Wednesday it will hold a hearing titled “Promoting the Well-Being and Academic Success of College Athletes.” The committee, chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-W. Va), will explore the NCAA's stated mission to integrate college sports and academics, and whether the commercial enterprise unfairly exploits athletes.
After the hearing was postponed in May, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rockefeller released a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert expressing concern about the NCAA's oversight of its members. The letter referred to a response Emmert previously provided to a Congressional request for information that “leaves us with the impression that the National Collegiate Athletic Association … defers to member institutions on most matters potentially leaving student-athletes vulnerable to the very abuses the NCAA was created to protect against.”
The letter stated that as colleges generate more revenue and publicity “the potential for exploitation and abuse of student-athletes has never been greater.”
The letter also referenced a National Labor Relations Board regional director's ruling that Northwestern football players are employees who can unionize. According to the senators, “if the NCAA were accomplishing its mission of protecting student-athletes from exploitive practices those (unionization) efforts would be unnecessary and likely unsuccessful.” A House committee held a hearing in May on the unionization effort.
The press release about next's week Senate hearing did not identify who will testify. Richard Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute, confirmed he has been invited to testify about graduation rates.
Before the hearing was postponed in May, former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon and current NFL player Arian Foster were expected to testify. Mary Willingham, the North Carolina reading specialist who questioned the literacy level of athletes admitted to the university, was initially invited and later told she would not be a witness. This week, North Carolina said the NCAA has reopened an investigation into fraudulent classes for athletes at the university.
Emmert also had an invite to attend in May. He testified at the O'Bannon trial last month over the use of college athletes' names, images and likenesses.