Senators Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal put Dan Radakovich in the hot seat Wednesday when the Clemson athletic director testified before a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Radakovich was a witness for NCAA president Mark Emmert, who pleaded to U.S. senators to grant the NCAA antitrust protection from lawsuits due to the NCAA’s proposed legislation on name, image and likeness (NIL).
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham presided over the hearing, the third one on Capitol Hill regarding NIL.
Radakovich was asked several questions by the senators and after one of his statements he was told by Senator Richard Blumenthal to be careful how he answered things because he was under oath and he could be prosecuted for lying under oath. Clemson’s athletic director had said in his experience in working with many Power 5 schools in his career that he had never personally witnessed a college athlete lose his scholarship due to an injury.
Then Senator Cory Booker asked Radakovich about why he thought different NIL rules across the United States would create a competitive advantage for schools at the expense of others.
Radakovich, who was representing the ACC and the other four Power 5 Conferences, argued that different NIL rules would destroy competitive equity in college sports. Booker wanted Radakovich to explain the differences between competitive advantages schools would get with the NIL that they are not already getting with big-time facilities and high-dollar coaching salaries, such as the advantages, he pointed out, Clemson has over most of its ACC brethren.
Below is the back-and-forth conversation between Radakovich and Booker:
Dan Radakovich: “Those were done consciously through our board of trustees, our president, the investments we have made in football have really been done with our eyes wide open. Our fan base has supported them. There are no public dollars going forward…”
Senator Cory Booker: “I am not arguing against the decisions in your university being made at all. I am a huge fan of college football. I love the sport. I talk to Coach [David] Shaw time-to-time out at Stanford. He is worth … Coach Shaw you are worth every dollar they are paying you, if not more. I am just simply saying this argument that is applied to the students, it is often a double standard because it is not applied to the millions of dollars spent from everything from the coaching staff to the facilities and more. Again, the coaches are being held to or the student are always getting the raw end of a deal. For example, I had a very famous football coach recruit me to go to their school and he was so impressed on his persuasiveness on going to that school that he left that job and went to another school and called me right up and started recruiting me for that school. I just know that students can’t transfer without having a penalty… I know you can understand. Again, I support your university making the decisions and your trustees, but this is so hypercritical and a double standard when it comes to what young athletes face vs. what universities, especially when it comes to this hallow argument of a competitive disadvantage.”
Dan Radakovich: “Well then we are talking about the transfer legislation, Senator Booker, I think President Emmert talked about that and we have been supportive of that.”
Senator Cory Booker: “I want to get you to say that this idea that coaches can have a competitive disadvantage with one paid nine million dollars and another one paid two. But students, that competitive disadvantage, it seems within your league that you are concerned about the coaches’ competitive disadvantage.”
Dan Radakovich: “I think maybe I am not understanding your question and I will try my best. I think that the student-athletes and the NIL legislation that we are trying to put forward will allow them in the marketplace to capitalize to whatever the market opportunities that are available to them. Just like coaches, I think, have the ability to capitalize inside the marketplace for college football coaches or college basketball coaches. We want to be able to move forward and give student-athletes the opportunity to do that with their name, image and likeness and I think that is one of the reasons why we wanted to forward this particular group of guidelines and this principle package from the A5 Conferences.”
Senator Cory Booker: “I want to say this in conclusion. I don’t think I have a problem with Senator Graham, but I may have a problem with my dear friend Tim Scott. I love Clemson. I respect the work you do and as you said, and this is the Stanford philosophy as well, you are supporting a lot of athletes. The tragedy of this COVID crisis, as I think you might have read, Mr. Chairman, is that Stanford has had to end a lot of its sports because without the football revenue, without the basketball revenue, it is not… I really respect, especially athletic directors like you, who are really dedicated to your athletes. I am just trying to get, as the Chairman said, and I think we are actually going to create a lot of black partisan strength in just making sure the obvious thing is to protect athletes while helping with education. I am really encouraged because Senator Graham and I have a long history of getting stuff done.”
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