the BigAmateurism monologues

A series of events over the last 18 months—some unforeseeable—have created a perfect storm that will change college sports forever. The NCAA's bait an…
Oct 14th, 2021 | 1:06:32

65: The NCAA is Back in Congress

On September 30th, 2021, the NCAA’s high-powered lobbyists orchestrated yet another Congressional show in the NCAA’s renewed effort to reclaim the Iron Throne of college sports regulation. Last week’s hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce was a reprise of the Senate Commerce Committee’s June 9th, 2021, hearing. The June 9th hearing was the NCAA’s last gasp—and failed— attempt to eliminate state name, image, and likeness laws from the college sports regulatory field before the NIL laws went into effect on July 1st. In both hearings, the NCAA appears to be focused primarily on the federal preemption of state laws and executive orders relating to NIL. However, in the House hearing, the NCAA also renewed its request for complete antitrust immunity and a federal declaration that revenue-producing athletes cannot be university employees. The NCAA’s renewal of its Congressional campaign dovetails with the work of the NCAA’s newly formed Constitutional Committee led by Board of Governors member Bob Gates. For the first time over seven hearings and nineteen months, the NCAA’s reliance on high-powered lobbyists to attain college sports regulatory supremacy was finally put on the table. Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA) asked NCAA president Mark Emmert to pledge that he would not dispatch NCAA lobbyists to “sink” a federal bill that is genuinely athlete-friendly. The hearing was titled “A Level Playing Field: College Athletes’ Rights to Their Name, Image, and Likeness,” which channeled the theme of a bill proposed in September 2020 (and re-released in April 2021) titled “The Student-Athlete Level Playing Field Act.” Congressmen Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) and Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO) authored the bill. The NCAA has lauded the Gonzalez bill as a template for federal NIL legislation. Five witnesses testified at the hearing, four of whom supported NCAA objectives. The NCAA’s star witness was Baylor University President Linda Livingstone, who also serves on the Big XII Board of Directors, the NCAA Board of Governors, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, and the NCAA’s new Constitutional Committee. The hearing last week is a peek into the NCAA’s emerging strategy to push yet again for extraordinary federal protections and immunities, which, if granted, will allow the NCAA to curtail the burgeoning NIL market.