Former NCAA president Walter Byers died on Tuesday night.
Byers, who was 93 years old, succumbed to a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream.
“Walter Byers had a lasting impact on college sports, from those who compete on the field to the educators who support them,” current NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “As the NCAA’s first full-time executive director, he shepherded the growing Association by encouraging academic excellence as a central part of college sports. Our thoughts are with Walter’s friends and family during this difficult time.”
Byers played a major role in ensuring amateurism for athletes in the NCAA. Not only was he the man responsible for coining the term “student-athletes”, he was also the man that began selling the television rights for NCAA broadcasts. Those television rights have turned into multi-billion dollars deals that have changed the landscape of college athletics.
In his autobiography, Byers ripped the NCAA, saying that the association exploited athletes.
He wrote, “Whereas the NCAA defends its policies in the name of amateurism and level playing fields, they actually are a device to divert the money elsewhere.”