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…
Jul 19th, 2021 | 44:09

40: The NCAA’s Ministry of Truth Strikes Again: Mark Emmert Flushes Seventy Years of NCAA History Down the Memory Hole

In a stunning “interview” with a “small group of reporters” on July 15th, 2021, NCAA president Mark Emmert erased seventy years of NCAA history. He made a case for returning the structure and governance of college sports to the “home rule” era of the early 20th century. Emmert claimed the mantle of reformist and visionary, stating, “[t]he new environment is one that creates some pretty remarkable opportunities for the schools and the Association to rethink and reconsider a lot of the long-standing components of what college sports has been about.” Emmert advocated a decentralized, deregulated structure that delegates NCAA national power to conferences and individual institutions. Emmert said, “[t]his is a real propitious moment to sit back and look at a lot of the core assumptions and say ‘If we were going to build college sports again in 2020 instead of 1920, what would it look like.’ What would we change, what would we expect or want to be in the way we manage it? This is the right time.” Emmert, for the first time in his 11 years presidency, acknowledges that “[w]e have had this tendency to be as homogenous as we can in treating every sport identically, and that doesn’t work. We need to say field hockey is different from football and not get so hung up on everything being the same.” Lost in Emmert’s newly-found religion of reform is that he has been the point person behind a two-year campaign in federal courts and Congress—particularly the Senate—to ensconce into federal law the exclusive authority for the NCAA to impose its uniform, national agreement to fix the cost of athlete labor at the value of an athletics scholarship. Since 2019, the NCAA and Power 5 conferences have asked the Senate to eliminate all external regulatory threats to their business model through an exemption from federal antitrust laws, federal preemption of state laws that conflict with NCAA amateurism-based compensation limits, and a declaration under federal law that athletes cannot be deemed employees of their universities. Emmert’s suggestion that the NCAA has been a reluctant recipient of national regulatory authority fly in the face of the NCAA’s campaign for the Iron Throne of college sports regulation. Emmert specifically directed his Senate testimony in four hearings since February of 2020 to defend the NCAA’s role as the sole national regulator of college sports. Moreover, the NCAA premised its position in Alston on the belief that the NCAA—and only the NCAA—should decide what is best for college sports.