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).
Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson yesterday at the conference's media days "launched immediately into reaction" to Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby's Monday comments suggesting "the five BCS conferences form a federation that would pave the way to allow them to eventually compete separately in football," according to Brent Briggeman of the Colorado Springs GAZETTE. Thompson said, "It might happen, but I don't think it will happen. I think there will be a different solution." Thompson was "open to working out concessions to the larger conferences that might result in stipends being paid to players." He said, "The bottom line is everyone knows there are issues with the NCAA. There is no easy fix. There is no right solution for everybody." Briggeman notes the issue "dominated conversation" during yesterday's media sessions (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 7/24). Thompson said of the concept of a super-conference, "I think it's been overstated and overplayed that that's their endgame. It's something they might take a look at, but there's a lot of steps between here and a new division" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/24). Thompson: "If you read carefully, what they are saying is that there needs to be transformative change." He added that the five conferences potentially seceding "won't affect" the MWC's finances. Thompson said, "CBS Sports Network and ESPN would have to pay us the same $18-20 million. We have a contract." Meanwhile, he said of any potential MWC expansion, "I would say we will be at 12 for years to come" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/24). Butler AD Barry Collier said that "change to NCAA governance merits discussion." Collier: "I think, for the most part, it's a good thing, because it brings in the conversation more responsiveness to the people on the ground that are operating the athletic departments" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/24).
MONEY MATTERS: Univ. of Texas football coach Mack Brown said of Bowlsby's comments, "I think that at some point we need to realize that's where we're headed. We've always tried to make rules for every level and have it under one umbrella, and it's never worked. When we tried to get instant replay, we couldn't because some (schools) couldn't afford it. When we tried to go to the 40-second (play) clock, we couldn't because some couldn't afford it. When we wanted to put the microphones in the helmets for quarterbacks, we couldn't because some couldn't afford it. ... They'd have to be weeded out. You have to say, 'Here's the minimum. If you can't live up to that, go do something else.' I think that's the only way to do it." But Wake Forest Univ. President and NCAA D-I BOD Chair Nathan Hatch said, "I don't sense among the presidents that people want to secede from the NCAA. There's been talk about creating a new division, but I think there would be huge resistance among NCAA schools, who are good and quality but not in one of the BCS conferences. That's under discussion, but I don't sense the gravity is huge. ... The problem is, once someone does that, no one wants to be thought of as a second-class citizen. Everyone is upwardly mobile." Brown said that the five conferences "would make enough money" from the College Football Playoff "to finance the lower leagues." Brown: "We're going to make enough money that we can pay for all of it" (ESPN.com, 7/23).