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.
Florida Atlantic will go through spring practice without their starting quarterback this year.
Head coach Lane Kiffin told reporters after practice on Wednesday that former Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison was suspended all of spring for an “internal matter” and would not be with the team as a result.
“We don’t really discuss details on them, but it is what it is,” Kiffin said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We’re always trying to help kids grow and mature and hold kids to a high standard.”
This isn’t the first issue for the former four-star recruit. He was dismissed by the Sooners after a violation of team rules — four months after he was arrested for public intoxication. Then Kiffin slapped Robison with a day-to-day suspension last spring after the quarterback violated team rules with the Owls following his transfer in.
The loss of the team’s starting quarterback is quite notable given that Robison threw for 2,540 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018 on his way to being named co-CUSA freshman of the year. His absence leaves FAU with just one scholarship quarterback available this spring as Indiana transfer Nick Tronti and redshirt freshman Cordel Littlejohn battle for reps.
Sorting out the depth chart for spring football is suddenly on the back-burner in Berkeley this month.
On Wednesday, a former sports medicine intern at California published a Facebook post that detailed several allegations of sexual harassment against the football program, including current and former players and coaches.
“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media,” a statement from the school to ESPN read. “Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided.”
The woman, Paige Cornelius, said that she had withdrawn from Cal in order to seek counseling therapy as a result of the alleged incidents. One such allegation leveled against the program was against a coach she said is still employed by the university, saying he invited her to a nearby pool and commenting on how she would look in a bikini. Another involved an unsolicited kiss from another staffer and comments from football players as well.
Speaking to ESPN, Cornelius said that she had tried to detail her allegations with athletic director Jim Knowlton and football coach Justin Wilcox but “didn’t receive a response,” prompting her to go public on social media and to other outlets.
Needless to say this isn’t the kind of headline that you want to have during a fairly big offseason for the program as the #MeToo movement hits the Pac-12 program.
adidas wants more MACtion.
In a spring letter to supporters this week, Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier confirmed a little bit of news that the program had extended their apparel deal with the German sportswear company for seven more years.
“Speaking of gear, I am excited to announce that we have extended our existing relationship with adidas for the next seven years,” Frazier wrote. “Look for more details on this soon!”
It’s a busy spring for the Huskies, who are coming off a MAC title in 2018 but will be seeing plenty of changes outside of their apparel deals with a new head coach in alum Thomas Hammock.
While the school re-upping with the three stripes is unlikely to be the sort of lucrative deal worth nine figures that some of their Power Five brethren have gotten, every little bit of extra money at a program like NIU counts and they will likely be able to plow that right back into the football program among other things.
We’ll have to see just how lucrative the deal is in the end but more money and more stability is a nice bit of business to take care of as spring football winds down in DeKalb.
They say it just means more in the SEC and most can agree that it is certainly the case in Louisiana, where LSU football is a way of life for many in the state. It’s also a place where politics and sports find themselves in the same story more often than you would think.
Case in point came this week where Gov. John Bel Edwards called Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron’s new $4 million a year contract a “bargain” for the school on his regular call-in radio show.
“It’s the way things are… and quite frankly, there are other schools, in the Southeastern Conference especially, that pay more,” Edwards said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “His enthusiasm for all things LSU is apparent and it’s also contagious.”
The governor, who is up for reelection in the state this year, also stuck to sports just a bit longer. The Tigers athletic department may have things going in the right direction on the football field but athletic director Joe Alleva is no fan favorite for the way he ousted Les Miles a few years ago to hire Orgeron and has seen his basketball coach caught up in the FBI wiretap scandal that has swept up college basketball.
Despite being embattled and hearing calls for Alleva to be let go, Edwards declined to go down that road as well in saying he was not in favor of a change in LSU leadership.
All politics is local after all and in the state of Louisiana, LSU football — and the athletic department in general — are certainly a subject worth commenting on for those in charge.