SBD/September 20, 2011/Colleges

NCAA's Emmert Urging Schools To Take Cautious Approach To Realignment

Emmert ruled out meeting on realignment due to antitrust concerns

NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday said that he has been "contacting university presidents and conference commissioners, urging them to consider key factors before reaching any conclusions or making any leaps," according to Michael Marot of the AP. Emmert said, "I want them to make good, thoughtful decisions about what's helping the school and what's helping the student-athlete." He added, "I do worry about some damage occurring in terms of collegiality. When this is over and the dust settles, we need people to be able to work together, so we need things to occur as amicably as possible." Emmert "ruled out the possibility of a meeting on realignment because it could potentially violate antitrust laws." But Marot noted his words "still carry influence and Emmert has never been afraid to use his bully pulpit to illustrate a point." Still, Emmert "does not think every move is a bad one." He said, "If you get more resources, that's a good thing. If you get more opportunities for student-athletes to play in new places, that could be a good thing, too, right?" But Marot noted there are "concerns, particularly the cost of excessive travel." And Emmert "isn't going to tell any conference or any school what they should do." Emmert said, "We don't go out there and hire coaches or athletic directors and we don't tell schools what conferences to be a part of. Those decisions are all the domain of the university" (AP, 9/19).

POWERLESS TO STOP IT: In N.Y., Pete Thamel writes with "more realignment seemingly to come," the NCAA is "powerless to oversee the process, the way a commissioner would in professional sports." The result has been an "every-man-for-himself mentality among college presidents." Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said that colleges "were moving so fast because of an atmosphere of 'panic.'" Princeton AD Gary Walters said, "What is lost in all of this is that the presidents -- the very people tasked with enforcing the NCAA’s and the Knight Commission’s principle of 'presidential control' of college athletics -- have proven to all that they are incapable of fulfilling their mandate. The hypocrisy is almost tangible." Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese: "The presidents have failed at their mission to put integrity back into the sport. As we look in retrospect, I don’t see a lot of integrity and honesty and loyalty" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). Tranghese added, "It's now a dog-eat-dog world in college athletics, and everyone is acting in their own self-interest. It's not about fit or academics or rivalries. It's about football and money, period" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 9/20). More Tranghese: "I’m embarrassed about the whole thing. Not just because it has affected the Big East -- it just seems that things such as integrity, and loyalty and congeniality are gone. Our problem is quite simple: We have no one in charge. You always need someone in charge who can make tough decisions for the so-called greater good of the game, and there is no one in charge. What we have are little fiefdoms who have conference names" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN2, 9/19).

SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT: In DC, Tracee Hamilton writes the board game Monopoly "is eminently more fair than the current Wild West atmosphere in college football, a sport ostensibly, allegedly governed by the NCAA -- but only when the NCAA feels like it, such as when a student-athlete might make a dime off his own jersey, that sort of thing." Hamilton: "Realignment, which affects thousands, maybe millions, of people? Sorry. Their hands are tied." University presidents and conferences "are the winners here." TV deals "will increase in value and the institutions will benefit financially." Hamilton: "And by institutions, we mean the athletic departments." Unless the NCAA "plows some of its ill-gotten gains into rules enforcement, it might as well go ahead and cede all control of college football to someone else, anyone else." Hamilton: "We’ve seen the man behind the curtain; we are fully aware the NCAA, like the wizard, is nothing but smoke and mirrors" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/20).

TIME TO END THE NCAA? ESPN.com's Jeff MacGregor writes under the header, "It's Time: The Death Penalty For The NCAA." MacGregor: "It is now understood, even by the most obtuse and earnest members of the sporting press that not only does the National Collegiate Athletic Association fail to prevent corruption, it requires it. ... The evidence against the NCAA needs no embellishment. The argument against it as any kind of operative force for good is overwhelming" (ESPN.com, 9/20). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote, "This is a business deal. Nothing is out of bounds when school presidents and ADs are scrambling to protect their financial empires." For the "right price, anything goes, including the selling of principles and souls" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 9/19). CBSSPORTS.com's Gregg Doyel wrote, "We need Congress to get involved in the wave of conference realignment that's crashing through the upper levels of college sports." Doyel: "All of them must be stopped: It starts with ESPN, but it has extended to the other networks. Conference commissioners. The monstrous University of Texas. Pouting Texas A&M. This isn't an anti-ESPN screed -- this is an anti-realignment screed, because everyone involved with this is screwing up college sports." College sports would be improved if someone would "step in and save college sports from itself." Right now there are a "handful of power-drunk commissioners and athletic directors and TV executives treating the country's biggest colleges like chess pieces" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/19).

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