SBD/December 6, 2012/Colleges

IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum: NCAA's Emmert Concerned With Realignemnt

Perlman (l) and Hatch (c) discuss recent changes to their respective conferences
During the opening session of the ‘12 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum yesterday, NCAA President Mark Emmert sat down for a wide-ranging interview on the current state of affairs of his admitted “weird” decision-making organization. The issue of realignment continues to be a hot topic with so much activity in the past few weeks. Emmert seemed concerned with the big picture. He said, “The unintended collateral damage is an erosion of the trust that used to exist between presidents of institutions and fellow ADs. When you run a conference, you have to have some level of trust. ... If you make a commitment to (stay), and you suspect that the person you just made a commitment to is now in the hallway trying to get out of a conference, that’s a tough relationship. This has cost people’s friendships and congenialities and I’m really concerned about that.” Emmert was later joined on the panel by Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Wake Forest President & NCAA D-I BOD Chair Nathan Hatch. They voiced their opinions on recent additions to their respective conferences. Perlman said, “We brought in two great academic institutions and we spread the footprint of the Big Ten. Obviously we entered markets that are great for media revenue.” Perlman had a high level of skepticism that the $50M exit fee for Maryland is enforceable. Hatch was sorry to see Maryland exit for financial reasons but is excited about the additions of Notre Dame and Louisville. Hatch: “It’s too bad to disrupt these deep, historic ties, but I understand fully why (Maryland) did it.”

CONTROVERSY HERE TO STAY: Perlman, who also serves on the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee, provided some interesting insight into the upcoming BCS playoff system. While a revenue-sharing model has been agreed upon, no site has been decided on yet and he knows that there will still be opponents. Perlman said, “Controversy is not going to go away. There’s enormous pressure to extend to eight and 16 schools. I don’t think it’s particularly stable over the next 12 years.” Hatch stated that he still has considerable opposition to expanding the college football season. Emmert believes the new model will change a lot of dynamics of access for all schools over time.

BREAKING OFF FROM NCAA: Emmert also addressed the issue of BCS schools forming their own governing body. He said, “If BCS schools or any other schools decide they’d be better served by having their own association, then they can and should go do that. That means that the NCAA has failed in some fashion, and as a university president, I wouldn’t want to be a part of an organization that’s failing. ... You’d have to start your own enforcement arm, replicate all the championships and recreate all the arms of the NCAA, but just do it in a way that serves your own purposes better.” Hatch said that he is opposed to setting up a whole new system.

EMMERT QUICK HITS

-- On progress at the NCAA: “Is progress happening as fast as I think is prudent? Yeah, I do. These things do require a good, thoughtful conversation. We are a very weird organization. We have 1,100 members. We have twice as many votes as Congress.”

-- On the lessons learned from the Penn State scandal: “A better support structure around university presidents and ADs. Making sure there is no existential threat to a president to say no to a coach.”

-- On transparency of the NCAA: “The whole issue of transparency in big organizations generally is a social phenomenon now because of changes that are happening in society. Are we as transparent as some people would like? No, we’re not as transparent as I would like, but we’re much more so than we used to be and we’re working hard on that.”

-- On failure of the student-athlete stipend: “I knew it was highly controversial, I didn’t anticipate the reaction it provoked. ... We didn’t do good diligence on this proposal.”
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