Report: SEC, Pac-12 leaders to push for NIL law in DC

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The commissioners of the Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 are scheduled to meet with lawmakers in Washington on Thursday to lobby for federal legislation to regulate name, image and likeness compensation to athletes.

Greg Sankey of the SEC and George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 plan to meet with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and other lawmakers, a person who has been briefed on the commissioners’ trip to Capitol Hill told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because neither conference was making the lobbying efforts public. Sports Illustrated first reported the planned visit.

The commissioners of two of the five wealthiest conferences want to lay out the negative ramifications on college sports and athletes if the status quo remains unchanged when it comes to NIL compensation. They also plan to present a framework for a possible solution.

The NCAA lifted its ban on athletes earning money for endorsement and sponsorship deals last year, but with no detailed and uniform rules in place. Left practically unregulated, NIL has quickly become intertwined with recruiting with millions of dollars suddenly available to athletes from well-heeled donors.

Coaches and administrators are concerned that booster-funded organizations have been luring recruits and all but transferring athletes to their schools with payments that are recruiting inducements in disguise as NIL deals.

The commissioners also plan to detail the potential damage that would be done to the majority of college athletes if those who play in the high-profile sports of football and men’s basketball were deemed employees of the universities and required to be paid. The NCAA and its member schools have long opposed the idea of paying athletes.

The Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 were among the major college football conferences holding spring meetings at the same resort in Arizona this week.

In an interview earlier Wednesday with the AP, Kliavkoff said the commissioners of the Power Five conferences were obligated to take a leadership role in shaping the future of college sports during a turbulent time.

“I believe that all of us agree on the idea that NIL is a good thing and that student athletes should be able to earn money using their name, image and likeness,” Kliavkoff said. “I think we all agree that there should be a few very definitive limitations on that to prevent schools from buying kids or pay-for-play. And I think there’s alignment (among commissioners) that we believe in the collegiate model, and we think a finding by anyone that our student-athletes are employees is an existential threat to the collegiate model.”

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”