Reaping what you sow, Mark Emmert edition

This is what comes of torching your credibility for more than a decade.

Some had waited months, others years and even a few decades. The college sports world excitedly readied itself for this day as it approached, an indelible moment in NCAA athletics history, when the governing body of college sports would jettison 100 years of amateurism policies that so many believe are un-American. Like the kitchen sink, poof, it’d be gone, replaced by modernized rules governing athlete compensation, specific pathways for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.

Eternally berated, the NCAA would claim a rare victory, a crowning achievement—maybe the crowning achievement—by ushering in a new era in college sports.

And then, on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET, it released a report totaling 14,000 words, 31 pages, 18 subsections, seven sections and, as one Congresswoman put it, zero concrete ideas. “My initial reaction is it’s a PR document,” says Donna Shalala, the former president at NCAA member schools Wisconsin and Miami who now serves in the U.S. House of Representative as a Democrat from Florida.

Shalala slammed the NCAA for a vague, nonsensical piece, released only to entice the press and appease the public, she said in an interview Wednesday afternoon from her Miami home. In fact, if she had received such a report while still a university president, she imagines herself wondering aloud, “Why are we paying all these people at the NCAA if they can’t give us more details than this?’”

Many key figures on the nation’s political stage held similar feelings about the NCAA’s name, image and likeness (NIL) report. The Congressional members most at the center of the NIL debate on Capitol Hill—the same ones NCAA leaders are pleading for help on this matter—spent much of Wednesday rebuking the governing body of college sports for a proposal, they say, that revealed too few details, included too many NCAA-friendly restrictions and, maybe most ghastly of all, contained a not-so-subtle request for a Congressional antitrust exemption.

Antitrust? Some lawmakers were befuddled at the notion. The gall. “I want to see them learn how to make a decision first. Wouldn’t that be nice? They don’t have to committee everything to death,” says Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee and a member of a key senate committee involved in the NIL topic in D.C. “We were giving the NCAA a chance to get their act together, but I think their leadership is weak. They are tentative and have shown they can’t come through with a requisite list of standards. They need to realize that the shot clock has run out on them.”

One thing a politician is good at is sensing when there’s somebody out there less popular than said politician.  The NCAA has managed to pull off that neat trick.  It’s no mean feat to be disliked more than the United States Congress, so, congrats for that, Mark Emmert.  You’ve earned it with all the delays, the morphed definitions of amateurism, the empty threats (hello, Jim Delany) and all the other bullshit that have marked what passes for NCAA policy.

Even better, you and yours managed to put the perfect bow on the box yesterday.

Most lawmakers who spoke to Sports Illustrated on Wednesday quickly debunked the possibility of an antitrust exemption—which would protect the NCAA from NIL legal entanglements—painting the topic as a non-starter and a waste of time.

When you’ve got a looming threat — and, make no mistake, Florida’s NIL law scheduled to go into effect in July next year surely qualifies — pitching wastes of time to the body you hope will stem the tide is pretty much the opposite of what you should be doing.  And if Emmert thinks things are urgent now, if nothing happens in Washington relatively soon, it’s not hard to think how much more urgent it’ll get next year.

“That’s why we’ve got to act and act fast. That means the NCAA has got to put a little more flesh on the bone than this proposal,” says Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut and one of the legislative leaders on this subject. “It’s Florida right now, but as we creep closer to that date, you better believe Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina and every other state with teams in the SEC or ACC are going to start passing laws as well.”

‘Ya think?  Smart and McGarity will have a bill in the Georgia legislature faster than they had with the open records one that passed in record time.  There won’t be a state with an SEC school that’ll miss that feeding frenzy.  And at that point, the horse will be way out of the barn for Emmert’s purposes.

You know what?  He deserves it.

18 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

18 responses to “Reaping what you sow, Mark Emmert edition

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    So, the report was released at 8:30am Wednesday and Congresspersons had their reactions on Thursday, in time for SI to publish Thursday night. Praise the congressional staffers who had to read that drivel all day.

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  2. When you have Marsha Blackburn and Donna Shalala on the same side of an issue against you, go ahead and admit defeat, Mark. Your organization and its members had a chance a few years ago to get this right. Your stubbornness and the control of Division 1 by the smaller schools over the interests of the Power 5 created this mess.

    If Morehead and McGarity don’t have an NLI bill ready for introduction in the General Assembly with the Governor’s blessing, shame on them. This is a bill that should have Kirby, Crean, Jeoff, and Pastner all ready to testify for.

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    • They’ll just copy the Florida law and change a couple of references. Won’t take long at all.

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      • I just read the bill. It’s a good bill that maintains intercollegiate sports while allowing a student-athlete the same rights everyone else on campus has. The Georgia General Assembly could probably pass it in the first week of the 2021 session. I assume Kemp would sign it immediately upon it appeared on his desk.

        I still would like to see Kirby testify on this rather than that stupid open records exemption.

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  3. chopdawg

    Also from the SI.com article:

    Todd Berry, the president of the American Football Coaches Association, says coaches have discussed a potential solution that avoids an overhaul in the NCAA’s amateurism rules: allow players to leave for professional football at any time during their careers, even after their high school senior year. The sentiment among many coaches, Berry says, is simple: If you want to make money, go pro. “A lot of our coaches—and I’m not saying all—have said, ‘I’d rather have that, go do your own thing, then throw away the model we currently have, a good student-athlete model,” Berry says. “Schools spend a lot of money on these athletes. They are getting strength and mental development, school, meals, housing.”

    Problem solved, IMO. Give athletes the freedom to go pro whenever they want.

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    • One minor detail: the NFL doesn’t allow players to go pro until they’re three years out from high school.

      College coaches control a lot, but they don’t control the NFL.

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      • chopdawg

        Sounds like the problem here is really the NFL.

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        • The NFL doesn’t see it that way. 😉

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          • chopdawg

            Yeah, I’m sure the NFL is very happy with having college football as its farm system. Doesn’t cost them anything, and they get to pick the cream of the crop of highly skilled, highly developed players.

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        • Seriously, Berry’s comment ignores all the college athletes who don’t have the NFL as an option, but have an opportunity to monetize their NIL.

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          • chopdawg

            If you’re a college athlete who doesn’t have the NFL as an option, how much $$$ can you really expect to make on your NIL?

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            • Man, I’ve posted about it before. How about that UCLA gymnast who had her routine go viral?

              There’s money for some of these kids to make on social media that we probably don’t fully appreciate.

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            • Katie Ledecky differs with you. It’s one of the main reasons she left Stanford to turn pro.

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            • Are you seriously unaware of how profitable posting your support for a product or event on social media can be for individuals with large followings these days?

              The people that value these things for a living think a guy like Rodrigo Blankenship <a href = “https://theathletic.com/1784459/2020/04/29/georgia-bulldogs-ncaa-name-image-likeness/>could have cashed in more on his fame as a cult icon in Athens by advertising on his social media feed than he ever will in the NFL.

              In a pre-NFL draft ranking by Opendorse.com, Blankenship was ranked No. 22 in the nation among draft prospects in estimated value per social media post: $408 per tweet, per the formula the company used, as well as a considerable amount of money per Instagram post.

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              • chopdawg

                Yeah, AD, I actually was seriously unaware of how profitable posting your support for a product or event on social media can be for individuals with large followings these days.

                But I know this about Opendorse.com, they don’t lie.

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    • Hogbody Spradlin

      It’d be nice if it were that simple.

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    • Turn pro where?

      NFL – 3 years
      CFL – 4 years
      XFL – 3 years

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  4. The Georgia Way

    If we need the Georgia Legislature to pass a bill, rest assured it will happen.

    Liquor distribution is included as an essential business. That doesn’t happen by itself, you know.

    #IN90DAYSTHISWILLALLBECOMECLEAR #COMMITTOTHEG

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