If you thought NCAA president Mark Emmert on the witness stand in the Ed O’Bannon trial was something, his day in front of a Senate committee must surely be a spectacle. The Senate Commerce Committee arranged to have Emmert as a witness for questioning regarding the promoting and well-being and academic success of college athletes. The goal of the committee is to get a better understanding of how the NCAA is integrating athletics with academics and to determine if student-athletes are being exploited in the process.
“Critics of the [NCAA] and intercollegiate athletics have contended that the NCAA and its member schools are not carrying out their mission to protect and promote the well-being of college athletes, and that reports of exploitation of athletes by colleges and universities have become commonplace,” a statement about the hearing read, according to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. “In response to these concerns, Chairman Rockefeller, along with Commerce Committee Members Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), wrote the NCAA earlier this year to ask about the organization’s policies and its oversight of member institutions so that student athletes can be protected from potential exploitation.”
Emmert ws given plenty of time to prepare for this hearing. The NCAA president was sent a letter outlining the requested information and reason to have him as a witness back in late May. The letter highlighted various quotes from Emmert as well as relevant data from various reports and studies to support the reason for concern by the committee.
Emmert tends to keep his cool when under fire, sometimes by dismissing questions in a jovial way. That will not likely fly in front of a Senate committee.
Emmert will not be the only witness called to testify before the committee. Former Florida State player Myron Rolle and former North Carolina player Devon Ramsay and former athletics director at Temple, Bill Bradshaw, are also on the list of expected witnesses.
You can watch the hearing live online starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema will not be disciplined by the SEC office for his brief interaction with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson last weekend. A video showing Bielema exaggerating his interaction with Robinson at the end of a play was reviewed by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, and the commissioner has discussed the situation with the Razorbacks coach.
“I visited with Bret over the phone on Monday and we discussed the play that has now become widely reviewed through a brief video clip,” Sankey said in a released statement. “Football is played in an intense competitive environment and I reminded him of the need for head coaches to resolve with their own players issues that may arise, which was his intent. The unsportsmanlike penalty assessed on the play was not directly associated with Bret’s efforts to intervene at the end of the play and we are moving forward in a positive manner.”
That appears to be the end of the discussion regarding Bielema’s act. I personally think there should have been some more done here by the league’s commissioner, but we will see if Bielema avoids putting himself in a similar position moving forward.
In the midst of what could be a dream season in South Philadelphia, the Temple Owls announced a rare sellout for a football game this afternoon. The October 31 game at home against Notre Dame has sold out Lincoln Financial Field. This is the first time Temple has sold out two home games in the same season since 1976, when the Owls began playing home games in one of Philadelphia’s pro sports stadiums.
This is the second sellout of the season for Temple, but it is also worth mentioning who the opponents are for those two games; Penn State and Notre Dame. Penn State is always Temple’s biggest draw when they get a chance to host the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans in and around the Delaware Valley. Temple dominated Penn State in the season opener, snapping a long losing streak against the in-state power. Notre Dame is also a big draw everywhere the Irish go, and there is a solid fanbase in the southeastern part of Philadelphia as well.
It is also a rare trip to Philadelphia for Notre Dame. The Irish last played in Philadelphia in 1993 when they faced Navy in Veterans Stadium. Navy also hosted Notre Dame in Philadelphia in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1972 and 1974. Notre Dame and Temple have never played in Philadelphia, although they did face each other in the 2013 season opener. This year’s game is the second game of a home-and-home series.
The game could potentially prove to play a key role in the evolving College Football Playoff and Group of Five conversation as well. If Temple avoids slipping up this week against UCF and next week at East Carolina and USC holds off USC, then we could have an undefeated and top 25 Temple program hosting a top 15 or even potential top 10 Notre Dame on Halloween. Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse here, but that could be a very attractive matchup worth paying attention to at the end of the month for many fanbases.