COMMENTARY

Leave it to our high-minded Washingtonians to set about fixing the NCAA by plopping down Mark Emmert at a varnished wooden table for three hours and flogging him with tones of outrage and ridicule.

Sure, the NCAA has richly deserved its blitzkrieg of PR dents during recent years, but taking a pummeling from a bunch of Capitol Hill caretakers with an 8-percent approval rating? (Next up: Comcast rips Delta for poor customer service.)

Emmert couldn’t have been treated worse had he shown up wearing an Ed O’Bannon throwback and handing out bumper stickers that read “Concussions Ain’t My Problem.” As senators piled on about the NCAA’s reluctance to upend its business model by sharing profits with student-athletes and their families, you wondered how much hypocrisy Emmert could stand. Here’s a tip for future committee members: Commence lecturing on how to run a business only after you’ve solved the nation’s $680 billion deficit.

Look, these hearings—at least the ones that receive coverage—are made for the sound bites and dramatic accusations, with elected officials brandishing their prosecutorial lines for the cameras. Some lean so farcical they force guys like Sammy Sosa to completely forget English.

Perhaps the only enlightening outcome at the NCAA hearing was a survey revealing that 30 percent of public colleges allow athletic departments to have oversight of sexual violence cases involving student-athletes. That’s so nonsensical and alarming it would have been jaw-dropping at 1 percent. A revelation so disturbing and wide-ranging the Senate committee wanted it remedied by nightfall.

“You’ve got to fix that right away,” declared New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte. “The athletic department is not where you handle these allegations, Dr. Emmert. Walk out the door and fix that.”

Ayotte might as well have sent Victoria Beckham out the door to fix England’s soccer team, showing a deep misunderstanding of Emmert’s power to influence campus-policy of some 1,079 college presidents.

Even Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who commissioned the study, proved ignorant of Emmert’s purview and the rule-making bureaucracy of the NCAA: “I can’t tell whether you are in charge or whether you are a minion to the schools and college presidents. … And if you have no control, if you’re merely a monetary go-through, why should you even exist?”

That should have been Emmert’s cue to remind McCaskill, “I’m here because you called me.”

While we applaud McCaskill for exposing data on the questionable handling of sexual assault investigations, her report inexplicably chose to obscure individual responses from colleges. (Let fly the FOIAs …)

MORE: View Sen. McCaskill’s complete survey.

The closest thing to a reasonable call-to-action came from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, himself a former Stanford running back, who said: “We need another hearing, with the real rule makers, the college presidents.”

Soon-to-retire West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller also was a prominent stager in the hearing, though he delved into areas of conference realignment that seemed better suited for sports-talk radio.

On the specific topic of WVU joining the Big 12, Rockefeller asked Emmert: “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. … Is that right? Is that fair? Is that progressive?”

About as progressive as a government that, given the litany of serious issues requiring attention, prioritizes the convenience of a fan’s road trip to watch a college football game.

As the hearing concluded, Rockefeller opined, “My real feeling from this is that we haven’t accomplished much,” borrowing the precise words that could be used to adjourn most sessions of Congress.

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Comments

  • PhotoBoothe

    If the only thing accomplished by this hearing was to shed light on the shocking aspect of many athletic departments handling sexual misconduct cases involving their athletes, then the hearing was well worth having for that reason alone!!
    Allan seems to badly misrepresent Sen. McCaskill's words of the prev. paragraph in his flawed attempt to make two points.
    It's clear from her ACTUAL words that she refers to why Emmert's job - if not the NCAA itself - even exist, not to why he was "here" (at the hearing). Secondly, her - question - looking rather like a rhetorical one - shows a growing awareness of the limitations and frequent absurdity of the whole NCAA structure.
    Congress is always an easy whipping-boy, and, when it comes to the Teanderthal RepubliCONs running the House, whipping would be far too kind. Now all we need is some Teanderthal to - yet again - blame the victims...

  • ViennaGuy

    Show me something Congress does that ISN'T served with a side of hypocrisy.

  • mook

    Seems to me that there is more to worry about on capital hill than NCCA, which there is not enough space here to talk about. Like the bum that lives IN A BIG WHITE HOUSE ON PENNA. AVE!

  • Hop'sHip

    Careful there Allan. You are employed in a profession that is almost as unpopular as that of Congressman. One would think you might be a little less willing to pile on.

  • any major dude

    Shadow, I'll bet if you watch the C-SPAN listings they will replay the hearing.

  • Shadow

    The NCAA needs beaten upon but I am not sure it is the Senate to hold the cudgel or the President of the NCAA is the right target. I wish I had seen the hearing.

  • Aaron

    I don't disagree with the take on the NCAA, which I believe is a waste of money and is nothing more than a front in which to funnel money with no real power whatsoever. The real power lies in college Presidents, most notably those in the power 5 conferences which is why I can see a scenario in which those institutions leave the NCAA and form a separate group to see to their needs. Part of the drive behind that is the payment of football players, a move the non-power conferences strongly oppose but that's another conversation.

    I do find it amusing that Allen quotes the fact that Congress currently has an 8% approval rating as it's been my experience who bring forth such information are normally supportive of the minority party.

    Could Metro News have a closet liberal in the fold?

    At any rate, while it is true the congressional approval rating is low, most Americans rate their specific representative in a much more positive light. No Congress is ever going to garner as positive rating as a setting President simply because of the nature of their structure.

    • Jason412

      The 8%, well 7% according to an article I seen a day or two ago citing Gallup, wouldn't be near as note worthy if it wasn't a record low. The disdain for Congress has shown to be bipartisan, with Republican approval ratings not much higher than Democrat, or Independent, approval ratings.

      • Aaron

        That doesn't change my point. Historically, the party in the minority disapproves while the party in the majority approves and the overall approval rating is well below 50%. Going back over the last two decades, the only time the overall gallup approval rating exceeded 50% was when it hit an all time high of 84% in October, 2001, between 1996 and 2000 when ~55% approved of the job Congress was doing and in the early part of 2003.

        So citizens approved of Congress after the attacks on 9/11 and during the time Newt Gingrich shut down the government.

        Interesting.

  • John

    Sorry Allan not your best job of journalism. Your cynicism only helps to feed cynicism. Senator booker is correct about having a hearing of the real powerbrokers. Emmet is merely a frontman.

  • WVU FAN

    Good job Allen, well..well... What a can of worms...

    I have a couple things to say, NCAA needs go away or change completely!!!!! (like capitol Hill)

    It is the worst ruling body I have ever seen or read about in the History of the United States.

    NCAA has shown it is not for the students/ athletes & if any ruling body of Universities / colleges aren't out for the well being of it's customers then it needs to go away or customers need to find another way to get an education...
    Jay Rockefeller was right on about his questioning, We as WVU fans need some noise to be made along the lines of what WVU had to do to be in with the Big boys... (ACC, Big Ten & SEC closed their doors on WVU) NCAA did nothing in the realignment ordeal. (NOTHING...really?)
    I am grateful to the Big 12 and I believe we owe it to them to start winning games in the Big 12 and against schools in these other conferences Like Alabama coming up this summer in there back yard Atlanta, Georgia ( the Big Boys really know how to stack the decks)
    Capitol Hill needs to see we are tired of ruling bodies only serving Big corporations / Universities!!!!!!
    I am sure there more to say but I'll leave that to your other readers... Let's Gooooooooooo!!!Mountaineeeeeeeeeers!!!!!

    • TruthTeller

      WHAT? This is all a conspiracy theory!! There is no such thing as NCAA or Congress!! What are people talking about? My TV works and I have beer in the fridge. There is nothing to worry about.

      " Typical sheep attitude of most Americans"

      Pathetic....LOL!!!!

    • Mitch

      @ WVU FAN,

      How was Rockefeller right? Why would it be Mark Emmert's responsibility to answer questions about the location of games in our current conference? We joined it voluntarily.
      Rocky was just trying to look good for the cameras, like most of these empty suits.

      • Diaspora

        Rockefeller should applaud WVU's entry in the Big 12. It was the best thing that happened to the university under the circumstances existing. I suppose the alternative is taxpayer subsidy of the athletic program, bringing decision making power to the politicians. Then, the athletic programs could compete at a level more commensurate with the a states political power. Wow, just think, under that scenario, if Byrd was still alive, WVU could actually win some national championships.

  • any major dude

    I'm sure Ms. Capito wouldn't touch the subject were she elected, figuring an 8% approval rating would preclude her from speaking out. I'm also certain that she would make sure that the deficit problem was solved before taking on any other issue whatsoever!

  • Independent View

    More evidence that Rocky has and is an empty suit!
    Just go away. Soon you can "retire" to your DC Mansion and finally stop pretending that you ever were a West Virginian!

  • Mike

    Amazing. While our southern border is under open attack by throngs of transnational trespassers, these idiotic, pompous, and arrogant elected "representatives" (and I use that loosely) are deeply concerned about the NCAA. This further proves that Washington, DC is 63 square miles surrounded by reality.

  • RogerD

    As usual, Rockefeller can't see the forest for the trees. While he laments the fact that many fans don't have the means to travel the distance to many away games, he neglects to mention the thousands unable to attend because of the lower incomes, lost jobs, higher fuel and energy costs that have been brought about by him and his colleagues in Washington.

  • AnxiousEER97

    Sports hacks taking shot at Congress. Cool.

    • pc

      Unfortunately, West Virginians tend to forget that when Jay-bird came to WV and starting running for political office, particularly government, that he bragged that he could "walk into any corporate boardroom in America" and that his administration would create "50,000 jobs". Sadly, by then end of his governor's terms, he was about 48,000 short. The end of his mediocre career can't come too soon, and then he and Sharon can join their blueblood, Eastern seaboard liberal elite friends in the Hamptons!!!

  • Rangerz19

    Allan hit the nail on the head on this one. Love the comparison with "Comcast and Delta"!