NCAA's Mark Emmert: Recruiting climate won't change without congressional intervention

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

NCAA President Mark Emmert offered little hope for change in the recruiting climate in the Name, Image and Likeness era unless Congress gets involved.

"We still badly need one set of rules for the entire country and the only way that can legally happen is if Congress can help us out," Emmert said while visiting the University of Florida on Friday. "So we’re continuing to work with Congress and we need to get a bill passed.”

The NCAA adopted an interim NIL policy in July of 2021 after several states, including Florida, passed legislation granting the rights of student-athletes to profit off their personal brands. With 30 different laws in 30 states, confusion has reigned in the 14 months since.

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NCAA President Mark Emmert talks with a group of UF students after speaking with a class of sports management students at the University of Florida, in Gainesville , Sept. 9, 2022.

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The NCAA set a broad rule in its interim policy that NIL could not be used as a recruiting inducement, but has not been able to enforce it due to fears of litigation. The association has lobbied Congress for close to two years seeking an antitrust exemption. 

“There’s really not anything that can do it nationally without Congressional support because of the legal system right now," Emmert said. 

In Florida, things got ugly last June when star class of 2023 quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada committed to Miami over Florida and other SEC schools. Mud-slinging involving lawyers, collectives and representatives suggested Rashada was up for bid, with NIL packages as high as $9-$11 million being offered.

During the Florida visit, Emmert toured UF's new football facility, the $85 million Heavener Center, then fielded questions about NIL from students and student-athletes in a sports business class.

"I want to make sure they understand that I’m deeply committed to trying to do whatever we can to advance athletes and the support that college athletes get," Emmert said. "NIL is a really important part of that, it’s very complicated and there is still a lot of work do be done but it was fun to be with students and hear their great questions."

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Emmert's tenure as NCAA President is winding down after he announced his retirement last April. He will step away June 30, 2023, or sooner if the NCAA's Board of Governors finds a replacement before that. His 12-year tenure has included the implementation of cost of attendance for scholarship, navigating through a pandemic that caused the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Basketball Tournament, changes in transfer rules that has allowed more freedom of movement between schools and most recently, NIL rights.

"It’s been the most dynamic and in some traumatic moment in college sports history, but that’s been fun because it allows a lot of opportunities," Emmert said. "Most importantly for me, every year we’ve been able to improve the circumstances and support for athletes."

Asked about his legacy, Emmert responded: “I hope as somebody who kept the student athletes at the front of all of this, (that) the college athletes' plight has continued to get better and better and better every year.”