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  • Summary date: Mar 21 2019 - View Summary

    Enacts Article 37, Student-Athlete Protections, to GS Chapter 116 with the following provisions.

    Provides for the Article’s purpose. Defines the scope of the article to include all constituent institutions that have an athletic program and mandates compliance with all rules and sanctions of the University Student-Athlete Protection Commission (Commission), as authorized. Sets forth six defined terms.

    Prescribes 15 duties to constituent institutions with an athletic program regarding the protection of student-athletes in the areas of health and safety, academic opportunities, due process, and other duties, as specified. Defines athletic program to mean a sport program played at the collegiate level for which eligibility requirements for participation by a student-athlete are established by a national association for the promotion or regulation of collegiate athletics; excludes any club sports or any student-led recreational organizations. Requires constituent institutions’ compliance beginning July 1, 2020.

    Limits constituent institutions’ derivation of revenue from the use of a student-athlete’s name, image, or likeness by requiring the student-athlete’s written consent and limiting instances to athletic program events. However, allows constituent institutions to condition student-athlete’s participation in an athletic program on the student-athlete consenting to such use. 

    Creates the nine-member University Student-Athlete Protection Commission (Commission) as part of the UNC System, with members serving four-year terms. Provides for member qualification, appointment, removal, and the filling of vacancies. Sets parameters for Commission officers, meetings, quorum, and member expenses.

    Creates the position of Commission Director (Director), appointed by the Commission for a two-year term. Describes parameters for terms, vacancies, and compensation. Prescribes duties to the Director, including the execution of the Commission’s decisions and orders.

    Establishes the University Student-Athlete Protection Commission Trust Fund (Commission Trust Fund), administered by the Commission. Requires each constituent institution that has an athletic program to provide 1% of all revenue derived from the sale of tickets to athletic program events in the prior academic year to the Commission Trust Fund no later than July 1, annually. Provides for the use of the Commission Trust Fund to cover specified Commission expenses.

    Prescribes the eight powers and duties of the Commission, including (1) establishing and updating health and safety standards for student-athletes, (2) establishing and updating a code of conduct for athletic personnel, (3) creating and maintaining publicly accessible databases related to the protection of student-athletes, (4) conducting surveys of student-athletes, (5) requiring reports from constituent institutions regarding student-athletes’ well-being, (6) coordinating with the Secretary of State to monitor athlete agents in the State, (7) adopting rules to implement Article 37, and (8) performing other duties necessary for Article 37 implementation. Requires the Commission to adopt rules for the health and safety standards and athletic personnel codes of conduct by January 1, 2020, and further mandating constituent institutions’ compliance with these rules beginning July 1, 2020.

    Allows student-athletes or athletic personnel at any constituent institution to submit a complaint with the Commission alleging a violation of the health and safety standards, the code of conduct for athletic personnel, or the duties of constituent institutions to student-athletes created pursuant to the Article. Directs the Commission to establish a complaint process. Authorizes the Commission to decline to investigate in certain situations, as described. Provides for the Commission to investigate suspected violations on its own motion upon receipt of a report by athletic personnel, or upon receipt of a complaint not dismissed. Requires the Commission to notify the constituent institution of the alleged violation in writing within 10 business days of the determination to investigate the complaint and mandates constituent institution cooperation. Failure to cooperate is grounds for sanctions by the Commission. Provides for dismissal of a complaint for lack of probable cause after preliminary investigation. Provides for a hearing if the Commission determines the complaint cannot be resolved without a hearing or the constituent institution requests a hearing, with due process and hearing procedures as described. Allows for settlement of investigations. Requires the Commission dispose of investigations by: (1) finding substantial evidence of an alleged violation of a criminal statute and referring the matter to the Attorney General, (2) finding the alleged violation is not established by clear and convincing evidence and dismissing the complaint, or (3) finding the alleged violation of the Article is established by clear and convincing evidence and issuing the appropriate sanction. Requires notice of dismissal of a complaint. Provides for the finality of a Commission decision as to any complaint, except for an appeal of sanctions to the Board of Governors. Provides for confidentiality of complaints, responses, Commission findings, reports, and other investigative documents and records connected to an inquiry under the statute. Allows disclosure if the student-athlete submits a written request that the complaint, response, and finding be made public, or if the Commission finds a violation of the Article has occurred. Requires complaints for violations occurring on or after July 1, 2020, to be submitted to the Commission on or after August 1, 2020.

    Authorizes the Commission to issue one or more of seven sanctions in addition to any other remedy or penalty authorized by law, upon consideration of specified factors. Requires the constituent institution to pay costs associated with sanctions. Authorizes the Commission to enter into an alternative agreement with the constituent institution in lieu of sanctions.

    Provides for an appeals process to the Board of Governors for sanctions issued by the Commission.

    Prohibits retaliation by an interscholastic or amateur athletic organization against any student-athlete or constituent institution in the event a court issues a valid injunctive order permitting the student-athlete to compete in that organization’s event, with violations punishable by a $1,000 to $5,000 civil penalty. Prohibits retaliation by a constituent institution against any student-athlete or athletic personnel for filing a complaint with the Commission, with violations punishable by Commission sanctions.

    Provides for pro bono legal assistance for student-athletes for any athletic investigation related to a student's athletic eligibility, directing the Commission to establish a process to certify and assign attorneys. Clarifies that the constituent institution is not required to ensure the availability of a certified attorney to a student-athlete for any criminal or civil matter which does not involve the protection of rights established under GS 116-410(3) (concerning due process in an athletic investigation by the constituent institution related to eligibility). Provides limited immunity to an attorney serving as a certified attorney pursuant to the statute.

    Establishes the Injured Student-Athlete Scholarship Trust Fund, maintained by the Commission, to provide scholarships to constituent institutions to award to qualifying students. Requires constituent institutions to provide 1% of all revenue derived from the sale of tickets to athletic program events in the prior academic year to the Commission Trust Fund no later than July 1, annually. Sets parameters for students to qualify, awarding a scholarship, and scholarship funding. Directs the Commission to adopts rules to implement the statute. Applies to qualifying students who sustained injuries during or after the 2016-17 academic year.

    Requires the Commission to annually report to the Board of Governors and the specified NCGA committee, no later than August 15 each year, concerning student-athlete protection under the Article. Details the requirements of the report.

    Amends GS 163A-152(70) to include the Commission Director in the definition of public servants under the State Government Ethics Act.

    Provides for initial appointments of Commission members, no later than July 1, 2019, for specified terms. Requires the Commission to hold an initial meeting no later than August 1, 2019. Directs UNC General Administration to provide temporary staff and meeting space for the Commission until October 1, 2019.

    Requires the Commission to study the relationship between student-athletes, constituent institutions, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association from a healthcare perspective. Requires the Commission to examine specified topics in order to make recommendations to improve the health, safety, and welfare of student-athletes. Allows input from other states, stakeholders, and experts on health care. Requires a proposed timeline for the implementation of suggested changes. Requires a report to the specified NCGA committees by December 1, 2020.

    Requires the Commission to collaborate with the chief academic officers at each constituent institution to study ways to improve academic support to student-athletes, including considering specified issues. Requires a report to the specified NCGA committee by December 1, 2020.

    Requires the Commission to study ways to compensate student-athletes for participating in collegiate athletic programs, including consideration of the specified issues. Requires a report to the specified NCGA committee by December 1, 2021.

    Requires the Commission to study how to create a system through which a student-athlete can timely receive records concerning an investigation by the constituent institution of the student-athlete. Sets out issues that must be considered as part of the study. Requires a final report to the specified NCGA committee by December 1, 2021.

    Amends GS 116-143.6 to allow the Board of Trustees of a UNC constituent institution to adopt a resolution to consider as North Carolina residents persons who receive full athletic scholarships (was, all persons who receive full scholarships, unless the scholarship is for athletics).

    Includes a severability clause.