Congressman Price Introduces Legislation To Promote Financial Transparency in College Athletics
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman David Price (D-NC) reintroduced the Standardization of Collegiate Oversight of Revenues and Expenditures (SCORE) Act, which would promote greater transparency in college sports by making information about university spending on athletics publicly available.
The SCORE Act (H.R. 5110) would standardize and make public the financial information that institutions of higher education already report annually to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The bill would also require athletic conferences, the NCAA, and any entity that hosts a postseason tournament (such as the College Football Playoff) to report detailed financial information.
“As a proud North Carolinian and former college educator, I know that college sports are an integral component of the student and alumni experience. However, students also deserve to know how their tuition and fees are being spent,” said Congressman Price. “My bill would increase transparency and accountability in college athletics spending, without adding undue burdens on universities. It would also provide policymakers and university leaders with reliable and consistent data as they consider further-reaching reforms.”
As fans of college athletics know, sustained success in sports can raise the profile of a university nationally, contribute to the university’s educational mission, and offer a deeper community value beyond revenue and wins and losses. However, at a time when the rising cost of attending college is a major concern for American families, university financing of athletic programs has major implications. Schools with fewer financial resources must depend more on institutional funds, student fees, and taxpayer dollars to fund their athletics programs, while higher-resource programs can afford to increase athletics spending disproportionately. But the pressure to invest in athletics is felt across the board.
Introduction of the SCORE Act comes amid increased public and legal scrutiny of the NCAA, with more money than ever being generated by college athletics. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament generates nearly $740 million annually. In 2017, the College Football Playoff generated $517 million in profit, according to NCAA financial records. However, according to NCAA financial reports published in 2016, only 24 programs out of all 130 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools reported “positive net generated revenue” in 2015. Since 2004, no more than 25 schools have reported positive net generated revenue in any given year. Athletic departments that are not self-sustaining pose an increasingly greater risk to the financial health of the overall university as schools are pressured to invest increasingly scarce resources in athletics.
Nearly all of the revenue and expenditure information that colleges and universities would be required to report under the SCORE Act is already gathered by the NCAA, which created this reporting requirement after a 2005 NCAA task force of 50 college presidents identified financial transparency and lack of comparable data between peer institutions as a major concern. While the reports public universities convey to the NCAA are generally available via public records requests, these laws vary significantly from state to state, and private universities are not subject to the same public records laws. The SCORE Act would make standardized information—from both public and private schools—public and easily accessible, as the Knight Commission urged in 2010.
SCORE ACT SUMMARY
The SCORE Act would:
1. Make public standardized athletic department revenue and expenditure information that all universities currently report to the NCAA. Making public these reports creates little to no new administrative burden on schools.
2. Require the NCAA to make public, for the first time, a standardized revenue and expenditure report.
3. Require athletic conferences to make public, for the first time, a standardized revenue and expenditure report.
4. Require the College Football Playoff, or any other entity hosting a postseason competition, to make public, for the first time, a standardized revenue and expenditure report.