Rep. Mark Walker is chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest Republican caucus in the House. He hails from North Carolina, so this shouldn’t surprise you in the least.
… A three-sport letterman at Trinity Baptist College in Jacksonville, Fla., Walker and his staff have been studying the issue and considering legislative solutions since 2016 — the same year the NCAA, the ACC and the NBA moved sporting events out of North Carolina due to the passage of House Bill 2. At the time, Walker criticized the NCAA as “elitists who are attempting to extort and embarrass North Carolina for defending its citizens.”
What issue, you may ask? Why, what else would hurt like a pocketbook issue?
The chairman of a powerful group of Republicans in the U.S. House called on the NCAA to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, joining a growing chorus of influential people advocating for major change to the way colleges treat student-athletes and threatening legislation if the NCAA does not make changes quickly.
Rep. Mark Walker, from Greensboro, wrote that current NCAA rules regarding the name, image and likeness of college athletes “strips them of their identity and sovereignty over their public image.”
“As with every other freedom, they don’t go away. They are just transferred to empower someone else. In this case, those publicity rights and the large wealth created by them are held tight by school athletic departments, sports conference board rooms and NCAA administrators,” Walker wrote in an opinion article for The News & Observer.
Now, before you go ahead and hail the man as Jeffrey Kessler’s blood brother, note that “Walker is not in favor of paying players, his spokesman said.” Freedom only goes so far.
This is more along the lines of “Nice little amateurism racket you got going there, NCAA. Shame if anything were to happen to it.” Which is what you risk when you stick your snout where it’s not wanted.
Bottom line, this is more light than heat. But it’s also a good indication that seeking an antitrust exemption in Congress is likely to face choppier waters than the schools would prefer.