The N.C.A.A. is Under Scrutiny in Washington
Emmert, a former political science professor, suggested that it was a wise approach, not a measure of NCAA influence, for the leagues to try to pressure officials who might be particularly affectionate towards their branded schools. Others in college sports agreed that a conference-based lobbying strategy could certainly be good policy, but that it also reflected serious concerns about the influence of the NCAA.
“The NCAA blue disc is toxic in some neighborhoods in Washington, DC, but I would say it’s not all fair,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, referring to the association’s logo. “The analogy with Congress is perfect: everyone loves their congressman but hates Congress, and everyone loves their school, but they hate the NCAA”
With the NCAA sometimes proving to be “a problematic brand,” Bowlsby said, “we obviously want to have our own representation.”
Despite this, the NCAA still has strong allies in Washington. Until recently, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis R. McDonough and Vivek H. Murthy, the Surgeon General, sat on the association’s board of directors. When McDonough stepped down from the board last year, Robert M. Gates, who headed the Pentagon for part of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, took his place.
Lawmakers are careful not to question the personal integrity of NCAA leaders. But in a twist that many government and sports officials laughingly acknowledge, the United States Congress has ended up complaining about another organization’s slowness.
Some lawmakers say the NCAA’s current proposal, which would give students a regulated opportunity to enjoy their fame, falls far short of expectations.
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