Ralph Nader Launches Campaign to Make the NCAA Live Up to Its Stated Purpose
League of Fans Unveils Seven Educational, Ethical, and Safety-Based Reform Measures to Return Integrity to College Athletics
Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans organization is starting a campaign to make the NCAA live up to its stated purpose of integrating “intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”
“Big-time college sports is filled with hypocrisy,” said Nader, the League of Fans’ founder. “NCAA administrators, college and university presidents, athletic directors, and coaches constantly talk about their educational values and the importance of ‘student-athletes’ getting an education. But their actions speak louder than their words. Every decision they make seems to be driven by revenue-at-all-costs and win-at-all-costs motives, not educational ethos. That has to change.”
League of Fans proposes a set of seven recommendations designed to achieve two critical goals for college sports: 1) Enhanced academic integrity in college athletics; and 2) More fair, ethical, and safe treatment of college athletes.
Ken Reed, League of Fans’ sports policy director, said big-time college sports are at the precipice of collapsing under the weight of ego-and-greed-based policies and decision-making.
“Admittedly, it might be too late to salvage the current college sports system,” said Reed. “Today’s model might very well need to be scrapped. More drastic change may need to occur, including taking the steps necessary to possibly remove the non-profit, tax-exempt status our big-time, highly commercialized college athletic departments currently enjoy. However, we believe it’s worth a concerted, legitimate effort to save the original intent of college athletics: real students interested in making sports part of their overall educational experience while on campus.”
Reed said League of Fans is exploring a variety of possible options for testing the legitimacy of the tax-exempt status that big-time athletic departments operate under, including Congressional hearings, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation, and a lawsuit.
“Hopefully, it won’t come to going after the tax-exempt status of these commercialized and professionalized college athletic programs. Our hope is that these substantial reform recommendations – or measures very similar in nature – spur big-time NCAA Division I athletic programs to shift philosophically toward an education first, athletics second approach,” said Reed.
League of Fans’ seven recommendations include the following:
- Protect Athletes From Overzealous Coaches By Either 1) Replacing the Existing One-Year Renewable/Revocable Scholarship With a 5-Year Scholarship; or 2) Eliminating the Athletic Scholarship Altogether
- Require Athletic Scholarships to Cover the Full-Cost of College Attendance
- Establish a Year-In-Residence Rule for Freshmen and Transfer Students
- Cover All Sports-Related Medical Expenses for Athletes and Disallow the Pulling of Scholarships From Athletes Who Suffer Injuries While Engaged in Sports Activities For Their School
- Develop Policies That Severely Limit Weekday Games
- Implement Standard Safety Guidelines Across the NCAA to Prevent Avoidable Injuries, Illnesses and Deaths
- Extend California’s “Student-Athlete’s Right to Know Act” (AB 2079) Across the Nation.
The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ tenth report. “College Sports: Where Do We Go From Here?,” from its Sports Manifesto. Click here to read the full report: “College Sports: Where Do We Go From Here?”
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon