NCAA president Mark Emmert had a long day in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
Emmert was stared down by a Senate Commerce Committee for hours and he told the committee that he is in support of “scholarships for life,” among other reforms for the overall treatment of student-athletes in the world of collegiate athletics.
The vote for the Power 5 conferences to have autonomy on those issues is on the horizon in August, and Emmert told the committee that schools are ultimately in charge of enforcing these rules. This particular comment led to a harsh retort from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who said: “I can’t tell whether you’re in charge or whether you’re a minion.”
From the AP:
(Emmert) reiterated that the schools themselves are in charge of the rules and emphasized the challenge of creating a consensus among college presidents, coaches and athletic directors. That led to sharp words from Sen. Claire McCaskill, who leveled the ''minion'' statement and added: ''If you're merely a monetary pass-through, why should you even exist?''
The NCAA has come under fire from multiple angles in light of the Ed O’Bannon trial and Northwestern’s football players seeking unionization. Those issues, among an increasing list of others, have led to additional scrutiny of the overall treatment of student-athletes.
Emmert testified at length in the O’Bannon trial, where former student-athletes are seeking revenues from the use of their names, images, and likeness in video games and broadcasts, and said that he is against paying players under any circumstance. Emmert argues that paying players would destroy the collegiate model of amateurism and student-athletes being students first and foremost.
Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, a democrat from West Virginia, examined the merits of Emmert’s view of the collegiate model and amateurism.
“I think I am just very skeptical that the NCAA can ever live up to the lofty mission that you constantly talk about,” Rockefeller said to Emmert. “I don’t see how a multibillion dollar commercial enterprise can merely be an amateur pursuit. I don’t see how the NCAA will ever be capable of truly making a safe, quality educational experience for students their No. 1 priority.”
According to the AP, Rockefeller made “veiled threats of using subpoena power and the committee’s special investigation unit” if the NCAA does not pursue further reforms. Rockefeller also said that too much of the hearing was conducted in “self-protection mode.”
The goal of the hearing from the committee’s point of view was to gain a better understanding of how the NCAA conducts its business and how that affects student-athletes. Based on the comments from Rockefeller and McCaskill, they were not exactly satisfied with Emmert’s explanations.
- - - - - - -