SBD/Issue 198/Sports Industrialists

New Republic Profiles Sonny Vaccaro's Fight Against The NCAA

Former adidas, Nike and Reebok exec SONNY VACCARO since his '07 retirement has "waged a single-minded campaign against ... the NCAA," according to Jason Zengerle of THE NEW REPUBLIC. Vaccaro has visited colleges nationwide to "speak to students about the evils of the NCAA." Vaccaro during a lecture at the Univ. of Maryland last fall said, "The NCAA is the most fraudulent organization that ever lived." Vaccaro believes that the NCAA is "fraudulent for two fundamental reasons: The first is that the NCAA is more devoted to business than to education; and the second is that the NCAA makes its money by exploiting the talents of the young men it is supposed to be educating." Zengerle writes Vaccaro, because of his experience, "presents the college sports reform movement with an opportunity that holds both peril and potential. At one level, Vaccaro could harm the cause of reform by sullying it. ... At the same time, Vaccaro, more than anyone else in the movement, knows the nature of the enemy -- Having once been the enemy."

OVER THE HILL? Vaccaro since retiring from Reebok has had "several conversations ... with people on Capitol Hill about potential congressional hearings into the NCAA's tax-exempt status." Vaccaro believes that the NCAA losing that status and "being recognized as a business would force the organization and its members to compensate student-athletes beyond providing them with a scholarship that many of them are effectively unable to use." Vaccaro is "optimistic that he'll get his congressional hearing," and a Congressional aide said that his committee "could hold hearings on the NCAA as early as September" (NEW REPUBLIC, 7/9 issue).

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