Thursday May 28th, 2020 4:48AM

AP Exclusive: Power Five spend big on lobbying Congress

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020, more than they had previously spent in any full year, as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money.

The Southeastern Conference was the biggest spender, hiring three lobbying firms and paying them a total of $140,000, according to lobbying disclosure forms reviewed by The Associated Press. Before this year, the SEC did not employ Washington lobbyists, instead leaving the work of influencing Congress to individual universities and the NCAA.

In a statement to AP, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the conference hired lobbyists so it could be part of the discussion as Congress gets more serious about reforming college sports.

“It is important for the SEC to have a voice in this national dialogue,” Sankey said. “We look forward to a constructive exchange of ideas about ways we can further enhance our student-athletes’ educational and athletic experiences while ensuring that any future changes can be administered fairly on a national level.”

The NCAA announced last month it was moving forward with a plan to allow college athletes to earn money for endorsements and other activities including personal appearances and social media content. California and other states have passed laws that would that would guarantee that right to athletes with few of the restrictions the NCAA is seeking. Florida could be the first to have its law take effect, starting next year.

The NCAA is pushing Congress for a federal law that would render those state laws moot and perhaps stave off future legal challenges.

Conference commissioners have spoken about a chaotic recruiting environment that would result from a handful of states passing athlete-friendly laws and schools using them to entice the best players.

At a hearing in February, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Congress needs to put “guardrails” on athletes' ability to earn money, in part to protect against potential recruiting abuses and endorsement money being used as a pay-for-play scheme. That argument was met with skepticism by some lawmakers and athlete advocates, who believe scholarship athletes should have access to the free market like any other college student.

The NCAA's lobbyists have continued to press the case for those guardrails, and now they have more help. A document circulated by the Power Five lobbyists, obtained by AP, lists the conferences' “core principles” for athlete compensation, and most of those principles include limitations.

They include: a requirement for “one term of academic progress” before athletes can sign endorsement deals; a ban on athlete deals with “advertising categories inconsistent with higher education”; and limits on who can advise athletes on third-party contracts to prevent "unscrupulous actors.”

Each of the Power Five hired the same two lobbying firms this year, and each of those firms collected $10,000 from each conference. The firms — Marshall & Popp, led by ex-Republican congressional staffers; and Subject Matter, led by Democrats — both stated as their objective a “national solution to preserve the unique model of American college athletics” while allowing players to earn money from their names, images and likenesses (NIL).

“In this particular case, the (Power Five) conferences are working together on this so that there’s less confusion, not more, in terms of the messaging to congressional leaders that helps explain NIL and what the concerns are, and how it might work,” Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford told The Associated Press.

Like the SEC, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten also hired their first Washington lobbyists. The Pac-12 spent $70,000, giving $50,000 to its own firm and $10,000 each to Marshall & Popp and Subject Matter. The Big Ten paid $20,000 to the firms working for all the Power Five but did not hire its own dedicated lobbyist.

The ACC and the Big 12 each spent $60,000 — $40,000 on their own lobbyists and $20,000 on the Power Five firms. Both conferences had the same lobbyists last year, the first year either had spent significant money to influence members of Congress.

Last year, the NCAA spent $450,000 on lobbying, the most it has spent in any year since 2014, and it continued at that accelerated pace by spending $130,000 in the first quarter of this year, records show.

Rep. Mark Walker, a North Carolina Republican and an outspoken NCAA critic who has introduced legislation on the topic, said the NCAA and its allies were “tone deaf” for spending money on lobbying to limit the earning power of athletes during a pandemic that has wrecked the U.S. economy.

“You've got millions of Americans struggling. Close to 500,000 student-athletes have had practices and competitions canceled, and they want Congress to drop everything and give them some kind of legal backdrop, cover, after decades of abuse,” Walker said.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, has not stopped the debate over athletes' pay, either in Washington or in statehouses. Swofford said he expected the Power Five to continue to have a lobbying presence.

“With the potential financial implications that come with the pandemic, I think any and all expenditures will be considered,” Swofford said. “But this is also a very important issue in terms of the future of college athletics and what it looks like.”


AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.


More AP college sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, College Sports, AP Sports - College Football
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP Exclusive: Power Five spend big on lobbying Congress
The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 lobbying Congress in the first three months of 2020
11:52AM ( 6 minutes ago )
The Latest: Candlepin bowling taking a big hit
The last candlepin bowling alley in the Massachusetts city where the sport was invented is closing for good
11:48AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Belmont set for June 20 without fans, leads off Triple Crown
The Belmont Stakes will be run June 20 on Long Island in front of no fans as the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown
11:46AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Dynamo Moscow player tests positive for virus
Russian soccer club Dynamo Moscow says a player and a coach have tested positive for the coronavirus and samples from four others gave atypical results
11:22AM ( 36 minutes ago )
The Latest: 6 Premier League players test positive for virus
The Premier League says six players on three clubs have tested positive for the coronavirus following the first round of checks
11:13AM ( 45 minutes ago )
AP sources: Expanded Rooney Rule to require more interviews
Two people familiar with the decision tell The Associated Press that the NFL is amending the Rooney Rule to require more interviews of minority candidates for head coaching and coordinator positions
11:08AM ( 50 minutes ago )
AP Sports
Column: Former Georgia player shows power of persistence
For all its ills, there are times when college athletics gets it right
5:20PM ( 18 hours ago )
Correction: Paul Newberry-Persistence Pays Off story
In a story May 15, 2020, about former Georgia football player Shedrick Wynn earning his college degree, The Associated Press erroneously reported that Jalen Jackson is his son
4:08PM ( 19 hours ago )
NFL cornerbacks Baker, Dunbar released from jail on bond
NFL cornerbacks DeAndre Baker and Quinton Dunbar were released from Broward County Jail on Sunday, a day after surrendering on felony charges stemming from a cookout at a Miramar home
6:19PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: UN recommends scaled back NY meetings in fall
The United Nations secretary-general is recommending the annual gathering of world leaders in late September be dramatically scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic
11:28AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Fed's Powell says new lending programs to launch by June 1
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the central bank’s lending programs for medium-sized businesses and state and local governments will be operational by the end of this month
11:20AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Despite risks, Trump says he's taking hydroxychloroquine
The White House is hurrying to defend President Donald Trump's decision to take a malaria drug he's been touting as as a treatment for the coronavirus
11:12AM ( 46 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Rubio steps in to lead Senate Intelligence Committee
The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Florida Republican Marco Rubio, will be overseeing a key vote as his first official act in the position
6:01AM ( 5 hours ago )
Battered California Republicans see hope in rare House win
Beaten-down California Republicans see hope for November after a U.S. House win in Southern California
3:22AM ( 8 hours ago )
Mnuchin to face grilling about small-business lending effort
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will likely come under tough questioning from senators Tuesday about a small business lending program included in the government’s $2 trillion relief package
3:01AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Darner out as men's hoops coach at Green Bay after 5 years
Linc Darner is out as the men's basketball coach at Green Bay after posting winning records in four of his five seasons
2:20PM ( 21 hours ago )
The Latest: Eruzione offers inspiration to graduation class
With virtual graduations the norm, one of the engineers of the Miracle on Ice has done his part to congratulate students
4:54PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Mahomes to celebrate virtual grads at Texas Tech
Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is set to be part of the virtual graduation ceremonies for Texas Tech, his alma mater
8:17PM ( 3 days ago )
College Sports
The Latest: ACC expects only slight revenue hit this year
Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford says the league expects to distribute nearly all of its projected revenues to member schools for this school year despite the shutdown of college sports amid the coronavirus pandemic
5:46PM ( 4 days ago )
LSU plan, Akron cuts, highlight divergent pandemic effects
Some college athletic departments are eliminating teams while others are discussing plans to welcome athletes back to campus as soon as next month
5:22PM ( 4 days ago )
The Latest: Auburn president says school will play football
Auburn University President Jay Gogue predicts the Tigers will play football this season
4:55PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Sports - College Football
The Latest: Candlepin bowling taking a big hit
The last candlepin bowling alley in the Massachusetts city where the sport was invented is closing for good
11:48AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Belmont set for June 20 without fans, leads off Triple Crown
The Belmont Stakes will be run June 20 on Long Island in front of no fans as the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown
11:46AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Walmart becomes a lifeline, online sales surge 74%
Walmart became a lifeline to millions of people as the coronavirus spread
11:42AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Germany breaks taboo in effort to get EU through pandemic
Germany and France are behind a proposal to set up a recovery fund to help hard-hit countries bounce back from the virus outbreak
11:40AM ( 18 minutes ago )
2 Republican special election winners sworn into House
Two Republicans have been sworn into the House after winning special elections last week
11:39AM ( 19 minutes ago )