Representative Price and Senator Murphy Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Promote Transparency in College Athletics

April 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (April 16, 2021) – Today, Representative David Price (D-NC) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) announced the reintroduction of the Standardization of Collegiate Oversight of Revenues and Expenditures (SCORE) Act, which would promote greater transparency in college sports by making information about spending on intercollegiate athletics publicly available.

The SCORE Act would standardize and make public the financial information that institutions of higher education that operate a Division I intercollegiate athletics program 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.

“The SCORE Act would bring badly-needed public transparency to the finances of intercollege athletics at a time when higher education costs are continuing to rise at an alarming rate.  Inadequate financial disclosure requirements have made it impossible to sufficiently study a significant driver of these costs while students paying rising tuition and fees are forced to foot the bill,” said Congressman Price. “As a proud North Carolinian and former college educator, I know that college sports are an integral component of the student and alumni experience. Despite amassing enormous profits, athletic programs’ financial disclosure requirements are abysmal. My bill would increase transparency and accountability in intercollegiate athletic spending, without adding undue burdens on universities, and provide policymakers and other stakeholders with reliable and consistent data as they consider further-reaching reforms.”

“Gender inequities in college sports were on gross display during this year’s March Madness tournaments. One of the ways we can help fix this problem is by shedding a light on how the NCAA and its members manage the billions they generate in revenue every year. The SCORE Act would shine a bright light on college sport finances, by requiring the NCAA, athletic conferences, and all colleges with Division I athletic programs to report far more data about their finances and provide the transparency that’s desperately needed to fix the inequities and broader issues in college sports,” said Senator Murphy.

SUPPORT FOR THE SCORE ACT

“We applaud Representative Price and Senator Murphy for sponsoring the SCORE Act,” said Donna Lopiano, Ph.D., President of The Drake Group, a national organization advocating academic and financial integrity in higher education. “We cannot fix our broken, exploitative, and excessively commercialized intercollegiate athletics programs without having a transparent and complete picture of their financial scaffolding -- including financial information on invitational, bowl, and championship events conducted by third parties.  One need only reflect on the recent athlete-exposed differences in treatment between the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four, to understand that public disclosure has a positive disinfecting effect.”

“Transparency in revenue and expenditures in college sports is long overdue,” said Stef Strack, CEO and Advocacy Leadership Team of Voice in Sport. “The SCORE Act is a positive step in gathering data to support our understanding of the financial intricacies of the NCAA and its member institutions. Voice in Sport believes stronger enforcement of Title IX starts with better data and consistent reporting, and we believe this bill will aid our efforts to bring more visibility to the discrepancies that currently exist.”

BACKGROUND

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.  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 and again reiterated in 2020.  

SCORE ACT SUMMARY

The SCORE Act would:

1. Make public standardized athletic department revenue and expenditure information that all universities that operate a Division I intercollegiate athletic program currently report to the NCAA, with little to no new administrative burden on schools.

2. Require a standardized revenue and expenditure report to be made public by the NCAA, athletic conferences, and any other entity hosting a postseason competition (including the College Football Playoff) for the first time.

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