Emmert: Change coming for the NCAA

GRAPEVINE, Texas — President Mark Emmert said Monday he expects “a lot of change” for the governance structure of Division I sports over the next year.

“I’ve said publicly on a number of occasions the only thing everybody agrees on with Division I governance is that it doesn’t work,” Emmert said during his opening remarks at a meeting of more than 100 Division I faculty athletics representatives. He later said NCAA directors are looking at the next six to eight months in particular.

“I think the board anticipates a lot of change,” he said. “They’re going into their October and January meetings expecting to look at a whole different governance model for Division I. So it will be significantly different.”

The NCAA’s annual convention is in January. The board hopes to adopt proposals at its meeting next April, and then have a special meeting for the full membership next summer.

The discussion focused on transparency and the public perception of the NCAA.

Emmert has received sharp criticism for months, for everything from the unprecedented sanctions handed to Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal to the botched investigation of alleged misconduct in University of Miami athletics. He, and the NCAA in general, have been singled out by conference commissioners, professional athletes and even current college football players.

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who says in an upcoming documentary he accepted money while at Tennessee, recently called the NCAA a bully. Some college players wore patches Saturday with the letters APU, standing for All Players United, to call for NCAA reform.

Additionally, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive suggested last week that the NCAA’s rules on governing agents are part of the problem amid reports of possible problems at Alabama and Tennessee.

“I haven’t talked to Mike about it, so I can’t speak for him,” Emmert said Monday.

The third-year president is fully aware of the public’s perception of the NCAA. Emmert said the board and other NCAA officials have concerns about that. The public sees him as more of a commissioner of a professional sport, which Emmert said is not the case.

He said getting people to understand the NCAA is more than just him or the board of directors — decisions are driven by the hundreds of member schools — is a difficult task.

“To think that the president of the NCAA has ever been anything like the commissioner of baseball is ludicrous,” Emmert said, “but yet that would be the most popular perception I suspect that people have of what my job is.”

The discussion did touch briefly on whether the NCAA would consider creating a new big-school Bowl Division — in essence, splitting up the current Division I. A packet distributed at the session called “Principles and Model for New Governance Structure” suggests that FBS institutions and conferences that are more closely aligned in issues and athletics resources form a new division.

“The simpler the governance structure, the better,” the packet states.

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