College athletics finances would be public under bill

Posted by Renee Schoof on July 15, 2014 

— A bill that would make financial information about college athletics at public and private schools easily available to the public was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday night by Reps. David Price, a Democrat from Chapel Hill, and Tom Petri, a Republican from Wisconsin.

The Standardization of Collegiate Oversight of Revenues and Expenditures (SCORE) Act would require athletic conferences and the NCAA to provide information on corporate sponsorships, television contracts and royalties for sporting events, and financial information from schools on such things as ticket sales, salaries, team travel, merchandise and broadcast rights. The schools also would be required to show their use of government funds, student fees and contributions for athletics.

The schools now report this information to the NCAA. Reports by public universities generally are available in some form through Freedom of Information Act requests, but reports by private universities are not.

“College sports are one of America’s proudest traditions, but the current system isn’t working equally well for all participants,” Price said in a statement his office issued on Tuesday. “Congress and the American public at-large are engaged in a conversation about how we can promote fair competition, protect student-athletes, and lessen the burden athletics place on the wallets of students and parents. We believe constructive, realistic reforms depend on a clear understanding of the financial pressures and benefits of intercollegiate athletics.”

Price said his bill would allow for the first comparison of athletic revenues and spending across universities.

While some schools can afford to increase their athletic spending, others have to tap their institutional funds, student fees and taxpayer dollars, the two lawmakers said in their release. They cited NCAA data showing that since 2004, in any given year no more than 25 of the 125 in Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools have had positive net generated revenue.

“At a time when outstanding student loan debt is over $1 trillion, it makes sense for the public to have an idea about how colleges and universities account for and use revenue from ticket sales, advertising, and contracts. This legislation requires only the disclosure of information that is already collected by the schools and stored by the NCAA, and it will provide helpful insight on the financial impact of college sports,” said Petri, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce who’s retiring after this year.

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