Saving the NCAA’s bacon

Mark Emmert’s bold move with the Penn State sanctions has drawn a predictable reaction.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is facing mounting legal challenges and criticism over missteps in its enforcement process, may soon have to fend off another threat: federal legislation.

Rep. Charlie W. Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who criticized the association’s punishment of Pennsylvania State University during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, is considering introducing a bill that would seek to make the NCAA more transparent and provide due-process protections to players and coaches.

The bill may also attempt to establish a new oversight mechanism for the association’s judicial process.

The measure, which still must pass legal muster, is expected to include language taking aim at perceived problems in the NCAA’s enforcement and infractions processes.

Aides on Mr. Dent’s staff said they were looking to ensure that NCAA athletes, coaches, and institutions received more consistent treatment when they violated the association’s rules.

Inevitable.  Predictable.  Workable?  John Infante suggests the NCAA ought to grasp this situation as an opportunity to get relief from its biggest current threat.

So if the NCAA is not in a position to fight, the best move is to play ball with Congress. Rep. Dent and any other supporters want to remake the NCAA’s enforcement process. The NCAA already has to do that. The association might as well get involved as early as possible to craft federal oversight into something the NCAA and its members can live with.

But more importantly, this is an opportunity for the NCAA to get out of the O’Bannon case without long-term damage. In exchange for submitting to greater federal regulation and beefing up due process for athletes, coaches, and institutions, the NCAA could ask for an antitrust exemption that is much clearer and stronger than the one they enjoy from the Board of Regents case. The NCAA might have to give some additional ground, like full cost-of-attendance scholarships, looser rules on athletes’ relationships with agents, and maybe some sort of limited outside income model. It would be like negotiating a settlement in the O’Bannon case, but without those pesky plaintiffs.

That exemption is the NCAA’s holy grail.  No telling how much enforcement ground it would be willing to cede to get that, or how much of a “clearer and stronger” one would be offered.  I feel pretty sure about one thing, though.  The only thing worse than the NCAA we have now would be an NCAA with government backing.


Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

10 responses to “Saving the NCAA’s bacon

  1. AthensHomerDawg

    Seems like another reason to cut this group lose and have Slive and whoever create one that doesn’t step on its own dingus so much.


    • James

      Meah, anything created by schools to self-serve will self-serve, and thus have all of these same problems. That’s the whole problem here, anyway. The presidents know the business model requires the veil of amateurism for cost control and marketing purposes. How is getting rid of something run by school presidents, for something conferences and school presidents put together, better?

      Maybe the NCAA as a brand is totally garbage at this point, but if we’re going to allow self regulation, we might as well work with the existing infrastructure. Or not allow self-regulation (which is imo the problem here).


  2. Dog in Fla

    NIMBY “Rep. Charlie W. Dent, a moderate Republican” (Save the Children, State College) has been isolated and captured as part of a last ditch long-shot go deep Hail Mary effort to perpetuate the endangered species:

    “New Breeding Program Aimed At Keeping Moderate Republicans From Going Extinct”,27371/


  3. paul

    They’re from the government and they’re here to help. Yeah, that’ll work.


  4. Chuck

    I think Infante may be wrong about help on the O’Bannon case. Even if such legislation could be crafted, passed and signed (they can’t even work out a farm bill these days) I don’t think it would retroactive.


    • If the NCAA gets antitrust relief before there’s a final judgment in O’Bannon, how is that retroactive?


      • 69Dawg

        It would be a pretty good horse race but congress can be as slow as the courts on these things.


      • Chuck

        The class action (and future athletes) might lose out, but to the extent that O’Bannon and other named plaintiffs have actual damage, I would think those facts have occurred, the damage has been realized, and all of that took place before any talk of Congressional exemption. I think O’Bannon still has his case. That is probably small potatoes, and I can see a broader forward going exemption as a desirable thing if Emmert wants to keep his salary.


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I think a pretty good argument could be made that Congress couldn’t legislate the current O’Bannon case into oblivion as the NCAA would still be responsible for damages incurred up to passage of the legislation.


  5. rocksalt

    There’s nothing better than to watch an organization like the NCAA face a choice to either get pantsed in a courtroom in the O’Bannon case, or jump into bed with the Gubmint.

    Although all the effort on the part of Rep. Dent and his colleagues will surely only be expended once the national debt is reduced, unemployment brought back to pre-Obama levels, the coming train wreck of healthcare is averted….