Emmert, a former political science professor, said it was a wise approach, and not a measure of the NCAA’s clout, that the leagues seek to advocate officials who are particularly attached to their branded schools. Others in college sports agreed that a conference-driven lobbying strategy could certainly be good policy, but it also reflected serious concerns about the influence of the NCAA.
“The blue NCAA disc is poisonous in some areas in Washington, DC, but I would suggest not all is fair,” said Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 commissioner, referring to the association’s logo. “The congressional analogy is spot on: everyone loves their congressman, but hates Congress, and everyone loves their school, but they hates the NCAA.”
Since the NCAA sometimes turns out to be a “problematic brand”, Bowlsby said, “We want our own agency, of course.”
Even so, the NCAA in Washington still has powerful allies. Until recently, the Secretary General for Veterans Affairs, Denis R. McDonough, and Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy served on the Association’s board of directors. When McDonough resigned from the board last year, he was replaced by Robert M. Gates, who headed the Pentagon for parts of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.
Lawmakers are careful not to question the personal integrity of NCAA leaders. But in a phrase that many government and sports officials laughingly recognize, the United States Congress has complained about the inertia of another organization.
Some lawmakers say the NCAA’s current proposal that would provide students with a regulated way to capitalize on their fame falls far short of expectations.