University of Washington President Mark A. Emmert was selected as the fifth president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, succeeding the late Myles Brand.
“I have a lot of listening to do,” Emmert said at a news conference today. “Then I want to start working to make sure we are continuing the traditions of academic accountability.”
Emmert joins U.S. college sports’ governing body in a year when many athletic departments will probably show declines in ticket revenue, contributions and endowment income following the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s, NCAA Interim President Jim Isch said in an interview.
Emmert said he’ll take a hands-off approach when it comes to helping athletic departments balance their budgets.
“The fundamental question is, ‘Can we help presidents of colleges and universities manage these difficult issues?’” he said. “Our job isn’t to tell them how to do their business, but to help them be more successful in managing it.”
The 57-year-old career educator, with a doctorate degree in public administration from Syracuse University, was the chancellor of Louisiana State University before returning to his home state to run the University of Washington in June 2004.
Brand was president from January 2003 until his death of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 16. He made his mark by pushing academic reforms that punished schools that didn’t graduate their athletes. Emmert said he would continue Brand’s legacy when he assumes the duties of president on Nov. 1.
Already in place when Emmert takes office will be a new television agreement for the men’s basketball tournament. Isch, the NCAA chief financial officer since 1988 who stepped in for Brand, completed a 14-year, $10.8 billion agreement last week with CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting for the television, Internet and wireless rights to an expanded 68-team tournament.
The agreement pays the NCAA an average $740 million a year, which helps NCAA member schools to balance their athletic budgets.
Other issues facing the NCAA are the debate over moving to a postseason football playoff system and calls for increased opportunities for women in sports.
Emmert said a football playoff would be decided by the presidents of individual institutions and not by the NCAA.