SBD/February 28, 2013/Colleges

Emmert Defends Record Amid Scandals, Cites "Frustration" At Reform Setbacks

Emmert said concerns about his job security were "irrelevant"
NCAA President Mark Emmert yesterday “described not the past month but his tenure as ‘challenging’ under the current, shifting landscape, ‘a roller coaster of successes and scandals that have crossed over college sports in pretty much every dimension,’” according to Greg Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. Emmert said, “I don't think anyone could have predicted the number of issues that have surfaced. The frustration is you take two steps forward on the reform agenda and something explodes and you get knocked back. We’re making great progress, but it has been much more tumultuous than any of us expected.” Emmert “dismissed" whether he feared for his job security, categorizing the question "as irrelevant." He said that criticism "was part of the job.” Bishop notes the “clamor of criticism grew loudest this month, after Emmert admitted the NCAA botched its investigation into Miami’s athletic department.” The organization is "working to define phrases like ‘lack of institutional control’ to separate the behavior of an institution from the behavior of an individual.” The new definitions, however, “will not go into effect until August." The NCAA until then "will operate under the established rules.” Former NCAA Committee on Infractions Chair Josephine Potuto said, “Ultimately, the guy at the top bears the responsibility. That may not be fair. That may not be reasonable. But it’s a fact.” Michigan State Univ. President and NCAA exec committee Chair Lou Anna Simon issued a statement last Saturday supporting Emmert. She said, “The analogy would be you’ve hired a coach for rebuilding, and you didn’t give them a chance to work through the beginning stages of the rebuilding process. That was the reason for the statement. It wasn’t to pat Mark on the back.” Emmert said that the average sports fan “often misunderstood his role, that he was more like a secretary general than a sports commissioner.” Emmert: “I’m not in the position of Roger Goodell, one who hands down penalties or makes those decisions” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON: CBSSPORTS.com’s Jeremy Fowler wrote the “actions of one division -- enforcement -- often define the NCAA publicly.” Within its HQs’ “bleach-white walls, the NCAA clings to the normalcy of a daily routine.” NCAA VP/Division I and former VP/Enforcement David Berst said, “I think people even in the building are anxious about what’s going on. I think they are hopeful. But they are a little disoriented as well. I think people have confidence (Emmert) has the ability and the brains and the support of the presidents’ leadership.” Fowler noted employees “aren’t exactly sure where the Miami case will go -- or where it takes the NCAA.” Providing “carefully crafted statements won't help the NCAA enforcement regain trust of the membership, which will be the hardest part, while restoring its own confidence.” A source said that “outsourcing investigative work will likely be a consideration internally at some point.” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said that he is “not convinced yet that the enforcement model is broken.” Steinbrecher said, "None of the conferences want enforcement. None of us is set up for it.” Steinbrecher added that Emmert “deserves at least some credit for publicly announcing the problem in late January” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/27).

NCAA AT RISK? In DC, Nathan Fenno wrote, “Somehow Emmert is beyond blame, above the high standards he expects of those beneath him as the NCAA has lurched from embarrassment to embarrassment since he took charge” in ’10. Fenno: “This is Emmert’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along NCAA. Process and procedures can be discarded when they aren’t convenient” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/26). CBSSPORTS.com’s Dennis Dodd wrote, “Perhaps for the first time, the NCAA itself is on trial.” It is “news” when the NCAA exec committee “feels compelled to issue an unprecedented vote of confidence for its CEO” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/25). CBSSPORTS.com’s Gregg Doyel wrote the NCAA is “a joke and must be eliminated.” Doyel: “The whole damn organization is a problem, but still it continues along its merry way -- blissfully ignorant, too arrogant to understand that its existence is in jeopardy” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/25).
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