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Power Five Conferences Sharply Up D.C. Lobbying

Existential threats will do that.

Sen. Jim Inhofe...
Face to face lobbying is different with social distancing and masks.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things but not everything. Congress is in and out of town depending on the individuals and their situations, which makes lobbying difficult but nonetheless, lobbying is eternal and basically anyone who can afford to do it is going to try to influence votes. And the NCAA, and the most powerful conferences, are no different.

There are some unique challenges though.

Various state governments have passed, or may soon pass, new laws about compensating college athletes. The NCAA would normally be opposed to that of course - that’s what you would expect - but there’s a lot more money going to lobbying even as face time has diminished and budgets have contracted sharply. The Power Five conferences are working overtime to get Congress to act.

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

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey chimed in with this: “It is important for the SEC to have a voice in this national dialogue. 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.”

As Swofford also says, the Power Five Conferences are working together. Change is clearly coming and no one wants to have different rules in different states. There really needs to be a national standard, however it is imposed.

For a moment though, take a daydream break: let’s say California passes a law which radically tilts the market to the Golden State, then followed by Washington and Oregon. How long do you think it would take the SEC states to band together and pass a law that pays athletes more than they’d get in California? And how would the Big Ten states react?

It would be a nightmare, but it might be funny enough to watch to actually be enjoyable.