Is the NCAA working the refs, or are the refs working the NCAA?

Andy Staples has more background on that Mark Walker student-athlete compensation bill being introduced shortly.

Walker met with several NCAA leaders last week because he’d still like to get this issue settled without passing a law. The group included NCAA general counsel Donald Remy, who was named the NCAA’s Chief Operating Officer late last month. Remy’s presence at the meeting tells us the NCAA takes this very seriously. Last week, the NCAA contingent wanted to let the courts decide all these issues. (Which makes sense, because Remy knew which way the wind was blowing in Oakland.)

The NCAA should worry, because Walker isn’t alone. He says he has met with House Democrats such as Bobby Scott (Virginia), Cedric Richmond (Louisiana) and Hakeem Jeffries (New York) about this bill, and Walker expects bipartisan support. “When we get ready to drop this thing on Thursday, we’re going to have overwhelming support,” Walker says. “It isn’t just going to be a Republican thing.”  [Emphasis added.]

It’s pretty clear why Walker went on the record publicly about what he’s doing.  He hopes to goad the NCAA into being proactive on player compensation.  Unfortunately for Walker, the NCAA isn’t an organization known for taking hints, subtle or otherwise.

Will there be Congressional hearings on the legislation?  One can only hope.



Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

9 responses to “Is the NCAA working the refs, or are the refs working the NCAA?

  1. Can you imagine GMcG taking questions about Todd Gurley on C-SPAN? That would be fun to watch.


    • ASEF

      The NCAA is a single organization built from two very different constituencies – haves and have nots. The Haves put their foot down about 15 years ago and have been fighting a two front war ever since: keeping the money from flowing towards newer conferences and schools on the one side (think UCF) and keeping it from flowing to players on the other (think extra cream cheese on a bagel as an illegal benefit).

      The Haves are more ok with the courts and Congress making them compensate players and allowing them more latititude, because those things tend to widen the divide between Haves and Have Nots. They’d prefer not to in a vacuum, but anything that makes the P5 a more exclusive club is at least a partial win for them.

      So, if Walker thinks those two camps are going to sit down and iron out their differences, then he’s crazy.


      • ASEF

        Man, Firefox just seems to pick where those posts go at random. This was not a reply.


      • I think Walker is trying to show the NCAA there’s a legitimate political threat to the current order in the hopes that the NCAA will take the hint and self-correct. I also think Walker is naive about the NCAA’s mindset. The Olympic model has been a relatively easy PR fix for the NCAA, but it hasn’t been so inclined.

        It’s possible that the NCAA is convinced the political waters aren’t that hazardous. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if at some point the politics did turn seriously against the NCAA, that the organization would ask for a time out to see if something could be worked out on its own. If nothing else, that buys more time.

        One thing I’d note is that Walker’s bill affects the haves far more than the have nots, because that’s where the vast majority of the elite student-athletes are located.


        • ASEF

          Largely agreed.

          Alabama and Georgia are superior platforms for an athlete looking to market themselves than, say, Georgia Tech or UCF. Kirby and Saban would find ways to make that a program strength. It’s already baked into the recruiting pitch, when you think about it. That’s what I meant by widening that divide. Zion doing shoe commercials while wearing a Duke jersey is a win for the Duke brand. Basically a cross promotion at that point. Media 101.

          I think the elite basketball and football programs are cool with the Olympic model or some facsimile.


      • Good comments all, ASEF


  2. The other Doug

    Could a law or court ruling be enough to allow the top 40 football programs to leave the NCAA and form their own association? Obviously it would all be for the children, but they could then restructure so it was all kosher and they keep most of the money.


  3. Ya know, from the litigation stand point, ncaa may have seen this coming (potentially) years if not decades ago, fended it off for as long as possible, stuffed away as much cash under their bed for this (potential) moment…might just argue for a life time stay of execution….


    • I don’t think there’s any doubt the NCAA is likely looking for a way to finagle an antitrust exemption out of Congress. What do cartels and monopolies do when their business model gets threatened? They go all in with government to keep the status quo. Crony capitalism at its worst.


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