In response to the growing dispute over unpaid student athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Big 12 Conference has taken on its own lobbyist.
Former Missouri Rep. Kenny Hulshof, from Polsinelli PC law firm, will represent the 10-school athletic conference on issues pertaining to the welfare of students. Hulshof’s hiring closely follows the NCAA bringing on an outside firm, the first one in years.
On Friday, POLITICO reported the athletic association hired the firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Scheck as a lobbyist, also on issues of student welfare.
Recently, the NCAA and Division I college athletics have faced mounting criticism over billions of dollars in revenue collected through the efforts of uncompensated student athletes.
Both the league and larger Division I schools argue that players are primarily students, and as amateur athletes, they are compensated with free education and expenses. Critics maintain that the league exploits student labor to produce massive profits.
In the past few years, two major legal challenges have developed to the NCAA student athlete model.
Northwestern student athletes could form a union, a Local National Labor Relations Board ruled, although the school filed an appeal to the national board.
Another federal class-action lawsuit is currently making its way in Oakland as former players challenge the NCAA’s use of likeness and images for promotional materials, broadcasts and video games.
Each legal challenge poses an existential threat to the NCAA system.