SBD/July 24, 2013/Colleges

OTL Report: Mark Emmert's Leadership Only Compounding NCAA's Problems

Emmert said he would not take back any decisions he has made
The sanctions announced for Penn State Univ. after last year's child sex abuse case were "supposed to be the defining moment" of NCAA President Mark Emmert's tenure, but "instead of signifying his and the organization's status as tough on NCAA crime, it has become Emmert's Waterloo moment," according to Fish & O'Neil of ESPN.com. Fish & O'Neil write under the header, "NCAA's Emmert At Crossroads," in an "Outside The Lines" online report. Emmert's "leadership style, combative personality, and most of all, his decisions" since announcing the sanctions have "directly intersected with an NCAA in deep crisis." NCAA employees are "headed for the exits in droves, and instead of helping to alleviate the NCAA's problems, the man at the top may be compounding them." The "perceived crisis of Emmert's leadership also has dovetailed with an NCAA at a pivotal intersection of its own." The "drumbeat from BCS football-playing schools is growing steadily, with demands that they find their own place in the NCAA structure, apart from the other schools that look different, and most of all, spend differently." Those problems "aren't Emmert's doing; he inherited them." But there is "no doubt that, in the opinions of many, his mistakes and approach have helped sever the tenuous trust between membership and the association, and if Emmert remains at the helm amid such substantial change, it will be over the objections of some of the NCAA's most powerful school athletic administrators." But Wake Forest Univ. President and NCAA D-I BOD Chair Nathan Hatch said of the prospect of replacing Emmert, "We're not there. He's a very strong leader. He's done good things. I don't think we are there."

NO REGRETS? Emmert said he "can't think of one decision" he would take back as NCAA President. Described by some as a man who "never met a microphone he didn't love," Emmert is "great for the speaking circuit." But he is "not terribly in touch with his staff," and some of that "can be attributed to travel." Emmert estimated that he spends about 60-65% of his time "away from the office visiting campuses." Michigan State Univ. President and NCAA exec committee Chair Lou Anna Simon said of Emmert, "We hired somebody to be out there. He had a mandate to be more visible. Instead, it's made him a lightning rod" (ESPN.com, 7/22). Emmert: "I think the biggest challenge is trying to be as inclusive in all of the voices of the association as we're making decisions." He added of the NCAA's reform agenda, "If I were to go back and restart that, I would work hard to bring more people into those discussions earlier, so they felt better about the outcomes" (ESPN.com, 7/22).
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