“Just to be blunt about it, you don’t waste Condoleezza Rice’s time if you’re not serious about it…” — Mark Emmert
We saw some of this coming when, a few days after the commission she chaired filed its report, Rice expressed some exasperation with the lack of consistency in NCAA guidelines about compensation for student-athletes’ names, likenesses and images, but now she’s come out in full-blown retraction from the stand taken by the commission (and, by extension, the NCAA itself) regarding same.
And as soon as the legal framework is clear, developing a new policy on name, image and likeness. NCAA policy is inconsistent on this matter. Olympians already enjoy an exemption and there are other case-by-case exceptions. It should be possible to develop a legally compliant approach that allows student athletes from all sports to benefit.
She elaborated more fully here.
“We believe that students ought to be able to benefit from name, image and likeness but you can’t decide a program until you know the legal parameters,” Rice told USA TODAY Sports. “That was the point. I think some of the commentary suggested that we didn’t really speak on this issue. I think we did speak on this issue, it’s just that we understand there’s a legal framework that has to be developed first.”
Rice said she thought the commission’s report was “pretty clear” in its support of athletes being able to cash in once the various legal issues are resolved. But she maintains that the NCAA cannot do this while a pair of ongoing cases are pending.
“I think people may have looked at the fact that we said there’s a legal framework to be developed and said, ‘Oh, well, maybe they’re punting on this.’ Nobody was intending to punt on it.”
Yes, there’s some bullshit in that. The commission tabled the question of adopting an Olympic model for player compensation because of current court cases, so there was no statement from them that students should benefit from same. Condi’s being a little bit dodgy there. But even if you accept her explanation, the litigation excuse is weak sauce. There is nothing stopping the NCAA from changing the current prohibition against compensation for NLIs today — indeed, as Rice notes, part of her frustration lies in the exceptions already squeezing through that have no logical consistency.
“There is a legal framework that has to be determined, but name, image and likeness –athletes are going to have to be able to benefit from it,” she said. “I think everybody can see that. Exactly what that’s going to look like, I don’t think that we could design it. I don’t think that today the NCAA could design it because the legal framework still has to be developed. But when I see policies that are as confused as the NCAA’s policies on this, I think, ‘Why haven’t you gone and looked at this before?’ It’s really time to come to terms with name, image and likeness.”
The current NCAA rules, she said, “(are) just incomprehensible. And sometimes when something’s incomprehensible, you have to go ahead and say, ‘This is incomprehensible,’ which means it probably isn’t right. And I thought that in the report, we were pretty clear, that we think the framework doesn’t work.”
Rice is not alone. There are currently mixed signals about who can get paid as an athlete and who cannot. While Olympic swimming star Katie Ledecky of Stanford is one of the most recent to have to stop competing collegiately in order to start earning money, Notre Dame basketball star Arike Ogunbowale recently received a waiver from the NCAA that allowed her to make money as a participant on Dancing with the Stars. The NCAA said it was granting the waiver because the show was unrelated to her basketball abilities.
Rice isn’t buying it.
“I couldn’t for the life of me understand the explanation,” she said, “because obviously she’s there because she hit two winning shots in two basketball games (in the women’s Final Four), so that’s the connection.”
I do give her credit for being forthright about her frustration there. And especially with this:
“I would hope that what the NCAA is going to do is they’re going to take this moment, once they know what the legal framework is, and they are going to recognize that this has got to benefit athletes. Here I really stand with the athletes on this. It makes sense for the NCAA to have a legally justifiable framework that works, and currently the framework doesn’t work.”
That being said — and this is the part that the cynic in me expects to hear at any moment — she’s just tossed a lifeline to Emmert’s crew with that phony excuse. The NCAA will be happy to take the stance that its heart is in the right place, but until those awful lawsuits are resolved, its poor ol’ hands are tied. Hey, kids, if you want to blame somebody, blame those damned lawyers you hired. In the meantime, pay no attention to how much the schools are raking in without sharing.
These people suck.