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National College Football Writer

Congress creates caucus for NCAA college athlete issues

Two members of Congress announced Wednesday the creation of a caucus to inform Congressional members about physical, academic and financial issues college athletes face so they're treated fairly.

U.S. Reps. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.) and Charles Dent (R-Penn.) have formed the Congressional Student-Athlete Protection Caucus, according to a news release. The caucus comes as college sports faces increased scrutiny by Congress and as the NCAA has hired new lobbyists and is considering whether to seek an antitrust exemption to help with ongoing and future litigation.

“I want discussions driven by this Caucus to lead to greater accountability on the part of the NCAA,” Dent said in a statement.

In August 2013, Dent and Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) sponsored a bill that would restrict Title IV funds to colleges that are a member of an athletic association that fails to establish minimum requirements for health and safety, financial aid and the infractions process. Dent has also sought mandatory four-year scholarships.

Cardenas sponsored a bill requiring universities that generate $10 million or more in sports media rights to establish requirements related to financial aid, medical expenses and concussion testing.

“I am hoping that in the coming weeks and months we will see more universities commit to 4 year cost of attendance scholarships, full medical expense protection and reaffirming their focus on giving student-athletes the same world-class education that non-athlete students receive,” Cardenas said in a statement.

The Division I board of directors is expected to pass Thursday a new NCAA governance structure that gives the five major conferences more freedom to create rules benefiting players. Four-year scholarships have been an option for schools since 2012.

Jon Solomon is a national college football reporter with CBSSports.com. Solomon joined CBS in 2014 after covering college football at The Birmingham News/AL.com for eight years. He previously was a Clemson beat writer for The (Columbia, S.C.) State and The Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail.
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