Conferences Lobby Hard

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  • This article was first published in the FOS Daily Newsletter. Subscribe here.
  • The Power Five college conferences spent more money lobbying in the first quarter than any full year prior.

As discussions around college athlete endorsement money continue, the Power Five conferences are doing all they can to ensure a prime seat at the table. The SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC and Big 12 spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020 – more than they had previously in any full year, according to the Associated Press. 

The SEC, in its first-ever foray into congressional lobbying, led the way by spending a total of $140,000 with three firms in Washington. The Pac-12 and Big Ten, also first-timers, spent $70,000 and $20,000, respectively, while the ACC and Big 12 each laid out $60,000.

The conferences each spent at least $10,000 with two firms: Subject Matter, led by Democrats, and Marshall & Popp, which is run by former Republican congressional staffers. Both firms state their objective as a “national solution to preserve the unique model of American college athletics.”

In recent weeks both Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told FOS a federal law would help level the collegiate playing field as individual states start to roll out their own legislation. Last year, the NCAA itself spent $450,000 on congressional lobbying, the most since 2014, and has exceeded that pace by spending $130,000 in the first quarter of this year.

Conference Lobbying “Core Principles”

  • One term of academic progress before athletes can sign endorsement deals.
  • Ban on athlete deals with “categories inconsistent with higher education.”
  • Limitations on who can advise athletes.