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Mark Emmert discusses NCAA video game, help from Congress

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NCAA president Mark Emmert participates in a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute in DC on Tuesday. In the foreground is Jon Solomon, editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. 

NCAA president Mark Emmert participates in a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute in DC on Tuesday. In the foreground is Jon Solomon, editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a conference room on the eighth floor of an office building three miles from the U.S. Capitol, two men met for the first time after nearly a decade of adversarial exchanges through the media. Ramogi Huma and Mark Emmert even posed for a photograph together here, smiling side-by-side despite their professional differences. Imagine it: leaders of the National College Players Association and NCAA, two entities at odds, two men from vastly different backgrounds, two people with opposing views, shared not just a room but a photo.

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It was such a momentous occasion that the moderator of this event Tuesday worked it into his closing remarks. “Today has been a huge success for no other reason than we got Ramogi Huma and Mark Emmert to pose for a photo,” Tom Farrey told a few hundred chuckling attendees who gathered at the Aspen Institute for a panel discussion on the government’s role in the future of college sports. “They’ve been dancing around each other for 25 years.”

In a way, the dance is only continuing.

Tuesday was a busy day in our nation’s capital. And no, we’re not referring to the impeachment proceedings of a sitting president. College athletics, for decades fighting against Congress’s involvement, is now rushing to it for aid. Emmert met with two senators on Capitol Hill, an initial step in having decision-makers draft federal legislation to supersede mounting state laws that would destroy the NCAA’s amateurism model. Later, across the city, he spoke for 30 minutes as part of an event hosted by the Aspen Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank. For a few moments, Emmert shared a room with some his most noteworthy adversaries, many of them later blistering the NCAA leader after he left the building and expressing doubt in Congress passing fair legislation.

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