NCAA asks Sen­ate to limit ath­lete pay

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By BEN NUCK­OLS

NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Em­mert urged Congress put re­stric­tions on col­lege ath­letes’ abil­ity to earn money from en­dorse­ments, telling a Sen­ate com­mit­tee Tues­day fed­eral ac­tion is needed to “main­tain uni­form stan­dards in col­lege sports” amid player­friendly laws ap­proved in Cal­i­for­nia and un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in other states. The NCAA last fall said it would al­low play­ers to “ben­e­fit” from the use of their name, im­age and like­ness.

WASHINGTON — NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Em­mert urged Congress put re­stric­tions on col­lege ath­letes’ abil­ity to earn money from en­dorse­ments, telling a Sen­ate com­mit­tee Tues­day fed­eral ac­tion is needed to “main­tain uni­form stan­dards in col­lege sports” amid player-friendly laws ap­proved in Cal­i­for­nia and un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in other states.

The NCAA last fall said it would al­low play­ers to “ben­e­fit” from the use of their name, im­age and like­ness and is work­ing on new rules it plans to re­veal in April. Un­der the NCAA’s time­line, ath­letes would be able to take ad­van­tage of en­dorse­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties be­gin­ning next Jan­uary.

Mean­while, more than 25 states are con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion that would force the NCAA to al­low play­ers to earn money off their per­sonal brand in a bid to ad­dress in­equities in the multi-bil­lion-dol­lar col­lege sports in­dus­try. Cal­i­for­nia passed a law last year that gives broad en­dorse­ment rights to play­ers and it will take ef­fect in 2023. Other states could grant those rights as soon as this year.

The NCAA’s con­cern, echoed by Big 12 Com­mis­sioner Bob Bowlsby, who also tes­ti­fied Tues­day, is that en­dorse­ment deals for ath­letes would have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on re­cruit­ing, with schools and boost­ers in states with ath­lete-friendly laws us­ing money to en­tice play­ers to sign with cer­tain schools.

“If im­ple­mented, these laws would give some schools an un­fair re­cruit­ing ad­van­tage and open the door to spon­sor­ship ar­range­ments be­ing used as a re­cruit­ing in­duce­ment. This would cre­ate a huge im­bal­ance among schools and could lead to cor­rup­tion in the re­cruit­ing process,” Em­mert said. “We may need Congress’ sup­port in help­ing main­tain uni­form stan­dards in col­lege sports.”

Em­mert’s com­ments were sim­i­lar to what the NCAA, the Big 12 and the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence have been com­mu­ni­cat­ing to Congress through well-paid lob­by­ists. The As­so­ci­ated Press has found that the NCAA and the two con­fer­ences spent $750,000 last year lob­by­ing on Capi­tol Hill, in part to am­plify their con­cern that “guardrails” are needed on en­dorse­ment pay for ath­letes to avoid de­stroy­ing col­lege sports as we know it.

Sen. Jerry Mo­ran, a Kansas Repub­li­can and the chair­man of the Sub­com­mit­tee on Man­u­fac­tur­ing, Trade, and Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion, said he was not in­clined to act un­til af­ter the NCAA re­veals its new rules.

“I wish Congress was in a po­si­tion to be able to pro­vide the NCAA and the ath­letes the op­por­tu­nity to find a so­lu­tion. ... The abil­ity for Congress to do that is, that’s a chal­lenge,” Mo­ran said in an in­ter­view af­ter the hear­ing. “The next step is to see what the NCAA is ca­pa­ble of pre­sent­ing to us in April.”

NCAA crit­ics be­lieve there is plenty of ev­i­dence that re­cruit­ing is al­ready cor­rupt — point­ing in part to the fed­eral crim­i­nal case in­volv­ing shoe com­pa­nies pay­ing basketball play­ers to at­tend schools they spon­sor — and that let­ting play­ers earn en­dorse­ment money won’t cre­ate the ma­jor prob­lems the NCAA pre­dicts.

Ramogi Huma, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Col­lege Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, which ad­vo­cates for ath­letes’ rights, said un­der cur­rent NCAA rules, 99.3% of top-100 foot­ball re­cruits choose teams from the Power Five con­fer­ences.

As­so­ci­ated Press

HEAR­ING NCAA Pres­i­dent Mark Em­mert tes­ti­fies dur­ing a Sen­ate Com­merce sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing about on in­ter­col­le­giate ath­lete com­pen­sa­tion on Capi­tol Hill on Tues­day.

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