BOTH THE NATIONAL Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Big 12 have hired lobbyists for the first time. The issue: the “welfare of student-athletes,” what The Hill describes as “a key turn of phrase being used to underscore that players are students…and not professional athletes who should receive compensation.”
The debate on whether student-athletes deserve pay has been heated for years, and came to a boil most recently when the Chicago division of the National Labor Relations Board decided that Northwestern football players qualify as “employees” and therefore can unionize. But until now, the NCAA has relied on in-house lobbyists to bring the issue to the Hill, which cost them $180,000 in 2013 alone.
It’s unclear how difficult the NCAA’s task will be. One lobbyist speculated that when Major League Baseball was last on the Hill, it caved on its steroid policy. Whether there’s even a chance that the NCAA will do the same depends on how earnestly the issue is taken up by Congress. At the moment, The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, has yet to reschedule a hearing.