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Volume 24 No. 180
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NCAA's Emmert Discusses CFP After Three Years, Organization's Dealings In Esports

NCAA President Mark Emmert this week discussed the CFP and esports, "among other issues," according to a Q&A with Laken Litman of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Below are excerpts, some of which have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: The CFP is three years old now. Has it made college athletics more stable because of what it’s done for conferences, or less stable because of how much money is generated, which creates pressures on schools?
Emmert: The football playoff has been terrific for football. I think the championship has become an extraordinary event. ... It has of course accelerated the financial differences between the Power Five -- we call them the Autonomous Five -- and everybody else. And that creates some tension for sure. But I would certainly rate the football playoff as a very positive thing.

Q: What kind of uncertainty has it created?
Emmert: It creates perceptions that there’s an infinite amount of money when in fact the great majority of schools operate their athletic programs in a deficit. ... The one that’s in the newspaper all the time these days is the University of California Berkeley. Here’s a Pac 12 school that’s struggling mightily to cover all of their athletic costs. So I think to a certain extent it creates this notion that there is all of this money and therefore anything that costs money is irrelevant and that’s not true. There are some schools that obviously have very, very large budgets and do very well with it, but the vast majority don’t.

Q: What’s the extent to which the NCAA is addressing esports?
Emmert: Only in an exploratory fashion. ... We don’t know ... if it makes sense for the NCAA to have a role in esports. But it’s appropriate that we explore it and try to understand it. A number of our conferences are hosting tournaments now and some of them are starting to broadcast events on their streaming outlets and their TV networks. Lots and lots of colleges are having teams now and so were just trying to see what the landscape looks like and we’ll talk about it again at our October meeting (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/23).