WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller said Wednesday the NCAA says one thing but does another.
“The mission—‘Nothing comes before education’ is always there but the actions don’t appear to be,” Sen. Rockefeller said during Wednesday’s senate hearing on Capitol Hill looking at the NCAA, student athletes and academics.
Rockefeller, who chaired the meeting, had several questions for NCAA President Mark Emmert about the big money in college sports. He said many in higher education don’t want things to change because the money is too good.
The senator cited West Virginia University’s decision to join the Big 12 as an example of something that’s profitable for the university but a hardship on some fans.
“West Virginians who are not high income, or even moderate income, cannot go to any games out in the southwest but West Virginia University surely makes a ton of money from it. How do you respond to that?” Rockefeller asked Emmert. “Is that right? Is that fair? Is that progressive?”
Emmert said he was disappointed at some of the conference realignment decisions because of the travel time problems they’ve created. He said it’s not so bad for a football team but student athletes in sports like womens volleyball spend way too much time on the road.
Emmert told committee members changes are on the way for some of the big NCAA member schools when it comes to providing more money for athletes and making sure insurance is in place. Emmert also said Wednesday he supports lifetime scholarships.
Sen. Rockefeller said the changes sounded good on the surface but his hunch was universities “like things exactly the way they are because they’re making so much money.”
Rockefeller predicted to those in the hearing room that Congress would not be shying away from the issue of big college sports.
“I think that we want to continue this. We want to make this a continuing search of this oversight committee. We have jurisdiction over sports,” he said.