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

May 5, 2022, 3:38 AM | Updated: 4:58 pm
FILE - UConn's Paige Bueckers stretches during a practice session for a college basketball game in ...

FILE - UConn's Paige Bueckers stretches during a practice session for a college basketball game in the final round of the Women's Final Four NCAA tournament April 2, 2022, in Minneapolis. In 2019, California became the first state to pass a law allowing athletes to earn money on endorsements, autograph signings and other activities, and by July 2021, the NCAA lifted its decades-old ban. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — 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 met with politicians from both sides of aisle, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Kliavkoff has previously worked with Cantwell.

“I appreciate today’s opportunity for conversation and dialogue with members of Congress,” Sankey said in a statement. “As we have observed activity emerge that is very different from original ideas around Name, Image and Likeness, it is important we continue to pursue a national NIL structure to support the thousands of opportunities made available for young people through intercollegiate athletics programs across the country.”

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 from his position 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.

Coaches and administrators from several college conferences, including the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12, held spring meetings in Arizona this week and how to bring uniform standards to NIL compensation was the hottest topic.

“We’ve all spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. I think it’s great that they’re going to do it. Whether anything comes out of it …,” outgoing Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We’ve had relationships with the same people that they’re talking to for a while. And so we’ll see what comes of it.”

Bowlsby said there is little if any chance of anything getting done in Congress for college sports until after the midterm elections in November.

“Politics is always about building relationships. And I think you could never do enough of that,” said former congressman and college basketball player Tom McMillen, who now heads the LEAD1 association of college athletic directors. “I told my ADs to get to know their member of Congress. You want to get to know them before you need them, unfortunately.”

The NCAA has generally not regulated NIL activity as booster-fueled collectives have sprung up all over the country. Coaches and administrators have complained that collectives are crossing NCAA lines by using payments disguised as NIL deals as recruiting inducements for both high school prospects and transferring athletes.

In February, the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors directed to D-I Council to review NIL activities. A working group is trying to provide clarity and details to existing rules barring pay-for-play to manage collectives and make clear that donors cannot be involved in recruiting.

The council meets on May 18 and is likely to receive a report from the working group by then.

But the NCAA’s ability to enforce rules related to compensating athletes was undercut by last year’s Supreme Court decision in an antitrust case, leaving many in college sports skeptical of its ability to crack down on collectives.

“Based on my conversations with lawyers, trying to put this all in some clean little box is going to be difficult,” said Todd Berry, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. “The only way this is going to get cleaned up is with some federal legislation.”


More AP college football: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
1 month ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
1 month ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
1 month ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
1 month ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
1 month ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
1 month ago
As leaders lobby, NCAA searches for ways to rein in boosters