Mark Emmert’s next career should be cat herder. That’d be just as easy as running the NCAA.
When many of the nation’s athletic directors met Monday for their annual leadership conference, they received an earful from the NCAA president. Conference realignment is hurting the image of college sports, so it was up to Emmert to remind everyone that public perception matters.
Then again, he doesn’t hold sway over the football powers of the world, so it’s tough to tell if any of this had an impact. Still, it’s worth a read for his sternness.
“People today have greater doubt, greater concern about what we stand for and why we do what we do,” Emmert said to a packed room of athletic directors and faculty athletics representatives, who have all gathered here for their annual meetings. “And that is a huge problem for us.”
“The specter of the past couple weeks of conference realignment has not been a healthy thing,” said Emmert, speaking forcefully and without notes. The prevailing belief among the public and the press, he said, is that college sports stands only for money. But he scolded the ADs for allowing talk and speculation around realignment to center solely on financial matters.
“The world’s convinced that’s all we care about…that all this is about money,” he said. “I didn’t read many of us stepping up and saying that this will work really well for student-athletes because we’ll do X, we’ll do Y, it will create more resources, it will help us stabilize our programs.”
He’s obviously appealing to tradition, to sanity and to those who are tired of blatant money grabs. Sure, everyone’s worried about making less money in the future. Doesn’t mean schools have to go about in awkward and obvious ways.
And the silver lining in this? As Matt Norlander notes, the NCAA could subtly affect how business is conducted by enacting crucial rule changes next month. Updating the phone and text message rules and even addressing the true cost of a student scholarship would send notice that the NCAA is trying to make things better. Or something like that.
“The confusion and disruption of the conference realignment adds to, doesn’t detract from, our ability to get these things done,” Emmert said. “Because, candidly, I think we were all embarrassed by some of that behavior, and here’s our chance to show what we really care about.”
Will it work? Might have more luck herding cats.
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