A trio of Democratic senators is pushing the NCAA to use some of the billions of dollars it makes off the slam dunks and deep-outs of college sports to help its athletes become better students.
That money is generated primarily by the TV rights contracts to cover football and basketball at the schools.
The request came in letters being sent by Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D- W.Va.), Claire McCaskill, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to all 65 schools in the "Big Five" conferences: the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern.
“It is clear to even the most casual observer, that college sports, particularly Division I football and basketball, more resemble a multibillion-dollar business rather than an extracurricular activity merely complementing academics in the classroom,” they wrote.
The letter follows a hearing in July on reports of academic fraud, inadequate health care, and financial security.
After that hearing, the NCAA Division I Board voted to give those conference schools more autonomy in implementing reforms on behalf of their student athletes. "The key rationale was to allow these richest conferences to implement more effective reforms on behalf of their student athletes.
They promised to monitor the NCAA's progress in translating that new flexibility in investments in the tools those athletes neet get a degree and succeed after college.
The letters come as the NFL, the next step for a number of the students in those elite conferences, is under fire for how it deals with its players health and general welfare.