Nov 5th, 2021 |
71: Committees, Omertas, and Big-Time Football Power Plays
The NCAA’s vaguely defined “Constitution Committee” is due to announce the terms of its “transformative” overhaul of the NCAA constitution to align NCAA “responsibilities” with NCAA “authorities.” According to NCAA Board of Governors member Bob Gates—the committee chair—the NCAA is in an existential battle for “relevance” as a national regulatory authority in college sports. One pathway to national relevance (in addition to the federalization of the NIL marketplace through preemption) is the NCAA infractions and enforcement apparatus. Gates’ alignment theory suggests the importance of the NCAA police state at the national level. There appears to be some internal disagreement on that point. Independent of the NCAA Board of Governors and the Constitutional Committee, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors recently announced the formation of a “Transformation Committee”—with similarly vague objectives. Both committees are comprised of NCAA/Power 5 insiders and adhere to big-time college sports’ code of omerta. The family feud appears to pit the interests of the haves (Power 5) and have nots (lower-level Division I and all of Divisions II and III) under the NCAA umbrella. At the heart of the conflict is the future of the NCAA national office administrative state. By aligning its interests with the direct beneficiaries of March Madness money in Divisions II and III, the NCAA seeks an insurance policy to justify its national office bureaucracy supported solely by the CBS/Turner March Madness contract. The plot thickened on November 2 when Tennessee House member David Kustoff introduced the “NCAA Accountability Act” in Congress, substantially limiting the NCAA’s infractions and enforcement authority and jurisdiction. This episode sets the table to analyze the evolving behind-the-scenes skirmish between the NCAA national office and Power 5 football interests.