You could certainly make an argument that this week’s announcement the organization intends to implement some form of one-time transfer rule for college football players is an indication that it’s trying to put down the shovel.
I’m not going to even mock them by saying better late than never, because it’s got to be hard for that group to acknowledge that it’s completely tangled itself up in its rules and regulations.
That’s the real problem here. Even if Emmert and his team know they’ve lost their way, they’ve constructed so many barriers in the process that it makes it hard to get back on the road, even when they recognize the need to reset.
And there’s plenty more where that comes from. Look at the argument advanced by the Alston plaintiffs to the appeals court yesterday.
The NCAA knows that standing pat on loosening NIL rules is a losing proposition, but if it proceeds to take steps to extricate itself from that, it runs smack dab into its O’Bannon stance. It’s the inevitable problem that arrives when you insist on taking maximalist positions on everything.
Most of this could have been dealt with through proactive negotiations five years ago that would have left much of the schools’ positions intact, but that’s not how the NCAA rolls. Is it any wonder that lawmakers are skeptical of Emmert’s position that this time, they really mean to do something about NIL that’s in all the parties’ best interests?
It’s a shame, too, because it’s still not too late for the NCAA to roll up its sleeves and work out something allowing it to retain more than half a loaf. I expect that shovel still feels mighty comforting, though.