As far as problem solving goes, yesterday’s appearance by the NCAA president in front of a Senate committee hearing was expectedly short on specifics, but as far as political theater goes, it was boffo.
McCaskill offered some of the sharpest criticism of Emmert, questioning why his role exists if he can’t shape reform or prevent athletic departments from investigating sexual assaults.
“I can’t tell if you’re in charge or a minion” to the schools, McCaskill said. “If you’re merely a monetary pass-through, why should you exist?”
As best I can tell, the bulk of Emmert’s day was spent listening to harsh criticism of the NCAA’s role in college athletics and quite often commiserating with his critics.
But it was New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who played football at Stanford, who got off the shot of the day.
Booker questioned why the NCAA can move quickly when schools’ money and reputation are at stake, but not on basic issues for athletes. Booker noted that Cam Newton’s eligibility problems at Auburn were adjudicated quickly in 2010 so he could continue playing, yet Ramsay’s academic issues at North Carolina took far longer.
Sounds like the man’s been reading a few comment threads at a football blog somewhere.
I’m not being totally fair to McCaskill, as she did manage to drop a major substantive matter into the discussion.
More than 20 percent of universities give their athletic departments oversight of sexual violence cases involving college athletes, according to a report released Wednesday by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
I may be appalled by that statistic, but I am not surprised. Unlike Emmert and his constituents. Supposedly.
Emmert said he only read McCaskill’s sexual assault data on Wednesday and wants to better understand the results. He agreed the survey results contain an “enormous” amount of conflicts of interest that don’t help sexual assault victims.
Emmert said most NCAA members “are going to be very surprised” by the sexual assault data. Several senators called on Emmert and university presidents to change their procedures immediately.
If Emmert is right there, that’s just further proof of how detached school presidents are from the reality of how college athletics operate. Not to mention that it’s more fuel for a certain kind of fire.
Rockefeller, who has said he isn’t seeking re-election in 2014, said that if the Democrats control Congress “we want to make this a continuing subject of this oversight committee. We have oversight of sports. All sports. We have the ability to subpoena. We have a special investigative unit. We are very into this subject. This is part of a process here.”
Remember, these are the people Jim Delany hopes to engage for protection after the NCAA gets its clock cleaned in antitrust litigation.
In the end, though, it always comes back to Emmert’s leadership, or lack thereof.
Emmert said the hearing was a “useful cattle prod. It makes sure we know that the world is watching, that the Senate is watching. I believe we will wind up in the right place in a couple of months (after NCAA governance changes). If we don’t, I’m sure we’ll have these conversations again.”
As long as Mark Emmert’s talking, you know he cares.