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Three takeaways from another day of college sports hearings

Are these newsworthy because they might lead to laws this year? No. But for other reasons...?

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

There have been enough hearings and roundtables on Capitol Hill about NIL and college sports reform that I don’t feel the need to deeply cover every single one. Most of the arguments and statements are the same, most of the questions are the same, and none of them have led to anything resembling legislation that could be turned into an actual law.

And the conversations yesterday, both from the Ted Cruz roundtable and the House hearing on athlete employee classifications, fell into that same boat. I do have reason to believe that either of those events will lead to legislation in 2024, nor were the major conversation topics dramatically different from those of previous hearings.

Still, from trying to follow along on Tuesday, I came away with three takeaways that might not be so obvious to everybody else trying to stay abreast of what’s going on. Not everything said on Tuesday was self-interested blather.

For one, it is worth remembering,

The political winds can change

Part of the reason legislation has been so hard to come by stems from the makeup of Congress. Right now, the GOP holds a tiny majority in the House, with party leadership holding relatively low levels of power over the entire conference. Democrats have but a 51-49 Senate advantage, and that includes independents that aren’t always perfectly reliable votes.

That means that any college athletics bill would need to somehow attract votes from House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the support of a staunchly pro-organized labor White House. That’s a very difficult needle to thread, especially when many of the issues in college sports being considered don’t completely fall into partisan, ideological buckets.

Despite Sen. Moran (R-KS) saying that he thinks a possible agreement is close, I have a very hard time believing this Congress is going to agree on a college sports bill and get it passed this year. The legislative and political calendar make that too difficult.

But the next Congress might be different.

No matter what, Republicans are probably going to re-take control of the US Senate after this next election. Joe Manchin is retiring from Ruby Red West Virginia, and Democrats are defending difficult seats in Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Even in a year when Joe Biden wins re-election and Democrats do well elsewhere, Republicans probably win at least two of those seats, plus West Virginia.

Control over the House and the presidency is harder to predict. Still, I think it is reasonable to say that as of polling data in mid-March, the idea that Republicans could slightly expand their House majority, win 53 US Senate seats and the White House is a legitimately possible scenario. It might even be the most possible scenario.

That would change the legislative landscape for college sports considerably.

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