The NCAA continued its commitment to improving the welfare of student-athletes on Friday, hiring a major lobbying firm to keep those very athletes from profiting off their athletic accomplishments. A humble non-profit that brings in nearly a billion dollars in revenue per year, the organization is reportedly spending the big bucks to make sure its revenue isn't threatened by its student-athletes, according to Politico.
BHFS D.C. managing partner Marc Lampkin and lobbyist Al Mottur will take a lead on the NCAA client work, while Brooks Brunson and Elizabeth Gore will also work on the account.
Lampkin is a veteran GOP strategist with close ties to House Republican leadership, while Mottur is a veteran of Capitol Hill and the Federal Communications Commission.
Politico has the entire lobbying registration document.
It makes sense for the NCAA to hire a firm with ties to Republicans. Although the NCAA model is highly anti-capitalist and forces schools to rely on tax-funded Pell Grants to pay players, Republicans have been more willing than Democrats to take up the organization's cause. At a May House hearing regarding the unionization of athletes, Republicans were generally against players being compensated beyond their scholarships, contending that athletes should play for the love of the game.
While the NCAA will be criticized for spending large sums of money — certainly more than last year's total of $180,000, which it spent in-house, according to Politico — on pushing a political agenda, but it might be the organization's last hope to keep its model of amateurism unchanged. Considering its current struggles in the O'Bannon trial, Congressional intervention might be its best strategy.