University of Washington President Mark A. Emmert will succeed the late Myles Brand as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“I have a lot of listening to do,” the 57-year-old Emmert said at a news conference yesterday at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. “Then I want to start working to make sure we are continuing the traditions of academic accountability.”
Emmert, who starts his new position on Nov. 1, 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, who will be the NCAA’s fifth president, 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 career educator, who has 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.
Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University and chairman of the NCAA Executive Committee, said Emmert was chosen from a field of about 100 candidates.
“President Emmert emerged from a field of exceptional candidates who presented a broad range of skills, knowledge and experiences,” Ray said in a statement. “The decision was difficult, but we are confident in our decision that Mark is uniquely qualified to lead the organization.”
Brand, NCAA president from January 2003 until his death of pancreatic cancer last September, made his mark by promoting academic reforms that punished schools that didn’t graduate their athletes. Emmert said he would continue that push.
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 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.