How the UW Could Fix the Emmert Mess

Mark Emmert at the United States Coast Guard Academy, February 2014 (cropped).jpgThe scandals surrounding former UW President Mark Emmert began before he came here and were deepened before he left for his real job as NCAA commissioner.  The Washington Post calls NCAA President Mark Emmert “the lord of a feudal state that knows its time is over. “

My two cents:

College athletics need reform for many reasons. My two top reasons are
1. Racism.  Unless you are blind, teams like those at the UW do not look like the UW student body.  I am not against the UW recruiting the best American kids in any area of our activities but if we are recruiting nationally for a sport that is dominated by African Americans shouldn’t we also recruit nationally for top African Americans who have outstanding academic talents?

2. Money and myths.  I get very frustrated when I meet Husky fans and even some faculty who think the UW’s academic programs profit from the Husky athletic income. This is simply not true for the Huskies or, for that matter, for almost any other NCAA team.  The “games” are expensive.  Coaches, stadiums, … not to mention the paltry pay of the players .. these things add up to much more than enough to use up the income.  If the UW is running a business, it should be a public business, pay its own way and be fully accountable.
3. Make the Coaches Faculty.  Listen to any coach and she or he will talk about what they are teaching and how they are preparing their “students” for life. Seems like faculty to me but if so why do coaches report only to the administration?  Why are they not subject to the same accountability as every other faculty member?


On Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at 9:31 AM Amy Hagopian <> wrote:

Washington Post column about UW’s 30th President (2004-2010), who left here to run NCAA.

NCAA President Mark Emmert is the lord of a feudal state that knows its time is over


June 25, 2019

California is close to passing a law that would return to athletes what the NCAA unjustly stole: the rights to their own names, images and likenesses. One’s name and face are what some people might call a birthright. But in the eyes of the NCAA, college athletes don’t have birthrights; they’re serfs. NCAA President Mark Emmert, the Lord High of the Carillon Towers, has suggested all of California’s postseason competition could be jeopardized if the state allows an athlete to make a profit from his or her own name, picture or signature.

On Tuesday, the California state assembly’s Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media committee passed SB-206, the “Fair Pay to Play Act.” Its next step is the Higher Education committee. Emmert is so concerned by the bill that he sent lawmakers a letter with more than a smack of extortion in it. If they don’t put off consideration of the bill, according to Lord Emmert, His High Grace of The Citadel of Amateurism, it could be “impossible to host fair national championships” in the state. The Rose Bowl is scheduled to host the College Football Playoff championship game in 2023. His Excellency also suggested California athletes could all be ruled ineligible.

Here is more of Emmert’s letter, which has the benign quality of the talcum Emmert uses to powder his wig, until you smell the arsenic laced in it.

“We recognize all of the efforts that have been undertaken to develop this bill in the context of complex issues related to the current collegiate model that have been the subject of litigation and much national debate,” Emmert wrote. “Nonetheless, when contrasted with current NCAA rules, as drafted the bill threatens to alter materially the principles of intercollegiate athletics . . .”

Actually, the only thing the bill would materially alter is the reach of Lord Emmert’s power and the bottom-line profits at those ducal estates Emmert presides over: the turreted athletic departments that purloin and sell the images of athletes like sheaves of wheat. Clemson will sell stacks of No. 16 jerseys, but quarterback Trevor Lawrence won’t see a dime. You want a T-shirt that shows Tua Tagovailoa in Alabama crimson, characteristically pointing to the sky? You can get one for $20. Also, a sticker and a coffee cup with his image. He’ll probably never be paid for any of it.

Unless he moves to California.

Emmert is bluffing, and California should call him on it. Emmert’s threat to excise the entire left coast reeks of pure desperation and is in no way realistic. This is not a man holding a good hand of cards. He’s a guy with nothing more than a deuce in the hole, who is just trying to delay losing the whole pot. You really think Emmert is going to tell ESPN, CBS and Turner to take a hit in one of their biggest media markets, that the tournaments and bowl championships they paid billions of dollars in rights fees for will have to be played without the heart of the Pac-12? “Sorry, CBS, but you can’t have Stanford, Southern Cal, UCLA or Cal, because their kids might’ve made some cash from selling ­T-shirts with their own pictures on them.”

The NCAA had years to correct its system of feudal injustice and join the modern world, but it steadfastly refused to, and now an industrial revolution is upon them. UCLA’s Ed O’Bannon woke up one day and saw himself playing basketball in an Electronic Arts video game, for which no one had bothered to ask his permission, much less paid him. He sued the NCAA, and he won. Now lawmakers at the federal level also are considering legislation to make things right for athletes. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) proposed a bill to Congress in March that would strip the NCAA’s tax-exempt status if it doesn’t stop robbing athletes “of their identity and sovereignty over their public image.”

Suddenly, behold! In May, the NCAA convened “a working group” to study the issue of name and likeness. Lord Emmert, High Guardian of the Pure Bastion, promises his panel will “examine the NCAA’s position on name, image and likeness benefits and potentially propose rule modifications tethered to education.” He’s like a man trying to bring down the portcullis on an invading horde.

It’s all just a delaying action while more cash is diverted from players’ publicity rights and merchandising into the pockets of associate athletic directors, conference commissioners, NCAA senior vice presidents and all the other earls and barons who nibble at the corners of the feudal feasting table. The NCAA is too addicted to this system of lieges and vassals to change on its own. The leadership simply doesn’t know how it will exist without the cottagers tithing them millions.

There is nothing to study. There are no “complex issues related to the current collegiate model.” These are rights the NCAA never should have interfered with in the first place. A player’s name, image or likeness should never be anyone else’s to sell or merchandise except by explicit consent. The NCAA has no business considering them in a “working group,” or blocking the exercise of those rights for another second more. There is only one thing to do: Give them back.


Every other citizen in this country owns their name, visage and other biographical details. To rob college athletes of these things is flat out stealing, and it leaves athletes as a separate, permanently impoverished disenfranchised class. California lawmakers should pass their bill, and while they’re at it ask Emmert just who he thinks he is, to try to threaten an entire state.

Presumably, Emmert sent such a letter because the NCAA leadership is scared. A law such as this could very well be how it all ends, how the NCAA’s feudal castle is finally dismantled, rotting old beam by beam.

For more by Sally Jenkins, visit

Stephen M. Schwartz

0 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    So you want UW to be more like WWU. Good as WWU is leading the way. We gave up on our football team years ago. And while we still have some igh paid coaches (yes collee coaches are some of our states highest paid public officials) the athletic staff are treated closer to being faculty. They have yet to show up at the University President’s home to feed the Presient peeled grapes, but it will happen here before it happens at UW.

    The problem here is very much about mone. First tier schools, and college athletics that are still dominated by amateur sports. Rowing is big at UW and WWU but there is not a big money future for any of the participants beyond becoming a coach.

    I do think the NFL and NBA (ect) should be required to come up with a minor league. This would allow those who wish to play and be paid to do so and those who wish 4 years of amateur athletics to pursue that. Of course there is the option of paying all our students a stipend (Hey the military universities do it, sure those students are supposed to become US military officers at the end of their education, occasionally one or two escape the reservation to become football or basketball stars, sometimes even fulfilling their obligations.)

    I don’t know how strong an argument there is for NCAA having stolen athletes rights to their images, name and likeness. Every states high school programs do that. If you are going to play in high school sports that is one of the trade offs. WE do not do the European thing of our kids joining clubs to participate in sport as amateurs or professionals.
    I don’t think it is an empty threat that the NCAA will not play in California because of the new law. Depending on how it was written it may well make it impossible to have amateur sports at California universities and high schools. Reducing its exposure to the risk maybe the NCAA’s only option until the lawsuits and the full ramifications of the law are known. The law in now way guarantees that the athletes will be paid anything, may just make things in California more amateur. Shut down the big schools NCAA programs and do away with inter collegiate sports in California and elsewhere. Wit the rise of a more European way of doing sports. Guess the Seahawks will want to be among the first in getting their minor league team started in Modesto.

  2. theaveeditor #

    Good post ..aside from typoes.
    Are you at WWU?