Times-Herald (Vallejo)

As leaders lobby, NCAA searches for other ways to rein in boosters

- By Ralph D. Russo

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. >> The latest lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill by college sports leaders come as the NCAA tries to rein in booster organizati­ons funding questionab­le sponsorshi­p deals for athletes for use of their names, images and likenesses.

The commission­ers of the Southeaste­rn and Pac-12 conference­s were in Washington on Thursday, meeting with lawmakers to discuss the need for federal legislatio­n to help colleges regulate how athletes can be paid for endorsemen­t deals.

Greg Sankey of the SEC and George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 were scheduled to meet with lawmakers on both sides of aisle, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Kliavkoff has previously worked with Cantwell.

The two commission­ers were joined by Olympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland. Part of the pitch to lawmakers for giving college sports some antitrust protection is that moving to a more profession­al model for revenue-generating sports such as football and men's basketball would lead to fewer collegiate opportunit­ies for Olympic sport athletes.

The meeting comes about a week after oft-criticized NCAA President Mark Emmert announced he would be stepping down by the summer of 2023.

“NCAA President Mark Emmert's resignatio­n is one of many necessary structural changes that will enable the NCAA to support our student-athletes,” Blackburn said in a statement. “During my meeting with SEC Commission­er Greg Sankey and others today, I continued to push for the accountabi­lity and fairness measures our student-athletes deserve.”

The lobbying efforts for college sports leaders are not new. The NCAA has worked with lobbyists in Washington for years and, separately, so have the Power Five conference­s — the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference.

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