Charles Barkley Jan 21, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns former player Charles Barkley in attendance at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Baker is less than a month into his tenure as president of the NCAA. On Thursday, he was interviewed by Clark Kellogg and Greg Gumbel of CBS. One of his responses upset Charles Barkley, who made his displeasure known in no uncertain terms.

Baker was asked about his top priorities. He started by talking about better protecting the student-athletes and their families around Name, Image and Likeness.

“I would really like to see some sort of uniform, standard contract, so that when somebody signs it, they know they’re signing the same kind of agreement everybody else is signing,” he said.

Baker was then asked how he’d make that happen. He responded that “we’re going to talk with the folks in Washington about this.”

Baker did clarify that the NCAA needs to put a program together in case the help from Washington doesn’t come. But he reiterated that the feds coming through would be the ideal scenario.

“The only problem with it is, if the feds do it, all 50 states comply. If we do it, we have to perhaps nudge some states and their collegiate programs into participating because they may have state laws that don’t require that they play.”

The focus then went back to the studio, where Barkley clearly disagreed with something. When prompted, Barkley made it clear that he has no interest in a solution that includes politicians.

It’s easy to see where Baker is coming from. Prior to becoming the NCAA President, he served as Governor of Massachusetts for eight years. In his mind, this is the best way to do things. And truth be told, he isn’t wrong. If the feds enact legislation, everyone must adhere to it. That is easier than something coming from the NCAA, which could lead to some dissent.

But it’s easy to see Barkley’s frustration. Beyond his cynical (though not necessarily incorrect) take on politicians, when they get involved, things tend to get more complicated. That can defeat the purpose of creating a uniform NIL rule.

Also the interest from the politicians tends to subside if it becomes something that their constituents aren’t interested in. Right now, if the politicians are interested, it means the constituents are as well. But in time, that may not be the case. So, if any action takes a while to get enacted, the urgency may evaporate.

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