Tag:Mark Emmert
Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:40 pm

Emmert contacts DI CEOs on scholarship issue

NCAA president Mark Emmert has reached out to Division I presidents urging them to support what is becoming the controversial implementation of four-year scholarships.

In a document obtained by CBSSports.com, Emmert asks the presidents to defeat the override proposal on legislation that is allowing four-year scholarships for athletes. Previously, scholarships had been renewed annually, sometimes at the whim of a coach. The four-year measure was approved in October, but 82 schools subsequently signed an override petition.  

“It [override] will take away the opportunity for multi-year support for thousands of student-athletes,” Emmert wrote in the letter. “As we are a presidentially led Association, it is important that you direct what the vote of your institution will be. I encourage you to defeat the override of this proposal.”

Presidents can vote online next week beginning Feb. 13 through 5 pm ET on Feb. 17.   

The petition required the NCAA board of directors to reconsider. It will take 222 schools out of 355 in Division I to override the measure. Last week various reports stated that the majority of Big Ten schools support the measure, which was encouraged by commissioner Jim Delany. According to those reports at least eight of the conference’s 12 schools awarded four-year scholarships on National Signing Day.

“You’re going to graduate,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week. “We have that obligation.”

The rest of the 120 schools in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) are split at best on the issue based on an informal canvassing of the division’s 11 conferences.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive supported the measure as early as July as part of a national reform agenda. Auburn went on record last week as saying it awarded four-year scholarships to its latest recruiting class.

If FBS is split, that suggests that approximately 70 percent of the remaining 235 Division I schools (approximately 162) are going to vote for the override in order to defeat the measure.

If the proposal survives, four-year scholarships would still be optional only for each school. The one-year renewable scholarship has been in effect since 1973. Since then coaches have been able to “cut” athletes for sub-standard performance on the field. The existing proposal would still allow scholarships to be revoked year-to-year due to academic or off-field issues.

Even then, there could be subjective issues defining off-field conduct.

“I’d be surprised, frankly, if it’s overridden,” said Chad Hawley, the Big Ten’s associate commissioner for compliance. “The proposal come out of a working group on student-athlete welfare. Nationally there seems to be a commitment to keeping it in play. I’d be more surprised than not if it went away.”

Supporters are worried about the practice “running off” players who do not fit when a new coach takes over. Critics have said the measure pits large, well-funded athletic departments against smaller schools. The Associated Press reported that Boise State said in its override request that four-year scholarships would be a “recruiting disaster.”

"There is never a guarantee that the incoming student-athlete will be a good fit for the program and the institution," the school stated. "If it is a poor fit, the program is put in a difficult situation to continue to keep a student-athlete on scholarship."

Last month, the board delayed implementation of the annual $2,000 player stipend. It asked that the working group to come back with a modified proposal by April. Even if a new proposal gets through in April, it would have to survive a 60-day comment period. During that time there would be a second chance to override.

Both actions (stipend/scholarships) came out of an August presidential summit in Indianapolis. Critics attacked the stipend for being implemented too soon. Also, there was a concern about affordability, especially for some schools outside of BCS conferences.

The heading of Emmert’s letter states: “Subject: Student-Athlete Well Being” It goes on to state, “ … I need you to participate in the vote. I encourage you to defeat the override of the proposal that will allow student-athletes to receive multi-year scholarships.”

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 5:31 pm

Emmert: Miami being "incredibly cooperative"

Miami has been “incredibly cooperative” in the Nevin Shapiro case, NCAA president Mark Emmert told CBSSports.com. But at the same time the NCAA’s highest-ranking official reiterated his view that the death penalty should be used as deterrent in certain cases.

Emmert was widely quoted after the Shapiro report broke in August saying, that, hypothetically, the death penalty was an option in the Miami case. He repeated that again recently without speaking specifically about Miami.

“My position hypothetically was, no, you can’t take that [death penalty] off the table,” Emmert told CBSSports.com in a one-on-one interview. “We’re going to need whatever penalty structure we need to get people to behave themselves. If that entails – in extraordinary situations – the death penalty, I’m not unwilling to put that on the table.”

When the depth of Shaprio’s influence was revealed, the scandal was called the worst in NCAA history. Since then, there has been competition for that label.

Emmert went out of his way to compliment Miami president Donna Shalala and her role in the ongoing investigation that the NCAA started in the spring. For a sitting NCAA CEO to comment on such a high-profile case as Miami’s is almost unprecedented. For him to drop in compliments in the middle of the case, well, it’s hard to remember if that has ever occurred.

“The reality is that Miami, the university, has been incredibly cooperative,” Emmert said. “[Miami] President Shalala is doing an incredible job of interacting with us. Donna is doing a great job. She is being very, very helpful.”

Emmert did not elaborate, only to say that the NCAA is determined to wipe out third-party influence in football. The Shapiro case is ongoing as is the one involving Houston mentor/talent broker Will Lyles.

Emmert also spoke on other issues:


Conference realignment: “We had a situation a few months ago where it felt like June 1914. Everybody had their hand on the trigger and waiting for somebody to flinch. People weren’t necessarily making rational choices for rational reasons. We watched friendships, collegiality and trust blown up. That’s not the way universities are supposed to handle themselves.”

Emmert was most likely talking about Texas A&M’s June-September fling that resulted in its move to the SEC.

“I’d love to see something like a waiting period almost. Kind of like what you had with the SEC – the Securities and Exchange Commission. If you buy a company you have to vet it out. We saw that with Missouri. ‘Yeah, we’re thinking about this.’ It was a pretty rational process.

“We don’t have a formal role in all that [conference realignment]. Universities have to be able to make those decisions. Nobody should tell a university who they’re going to be a conference affiliate with. What I want is a system or a process by which schools can make up their minds -- optimally, deliberately without any rancor and politics of it.”


Recent NCAA reforms: “This is really the first wave. I’m extremely pleased. It was heartening to see the kind of support a pretty big change in a short period of time garnered … We made a clear statement about where I’ll our values were. The next wave will be around the rulebook, be around the way we do enforcement and the way we insist on integrity.”

On some criticisms of those reforms: (Some critics have said the $2,000 stipend was instituted too soon and/or won’t make much of a difference.) “You know the history of the NCAA. In the past when we wanted to make some decisions we started down a good road but then you say, ‘There’s this wrinkle and that wrinkle.’ By the time you’re done, you’ve got mush. This time we’re saying this is where we want to be.”

On pending legislation to address the Cecil Newton situation: (There is pending legislation that would label a parent a booster/agent if that parent solicited money from a school for the child’s services.) “We’ll see it coming out of this current task force on enforcement and infractions -- language that defines third parties to include family members, guardians, etc. That will have a very, very positive impact … That will be an integral part of the wave of reform around those issues. As you know, the intrusion of third parties…is ubiquitous and can be extremely pernicious. We’ve got to get our arms around it.”

The NCAA’s role in football’s postseason: “We have to be involved all the way along. Even though we don’t govern [FBS] postseason football, we certainly have rules about it. We’re debating right now the length of the season. How long the bowl season should be. Everybody wants to shrink it a bit. As we’re doing that, we have to then work with the conferences to say, ‘All right, what are you thinking about with the BCS?’ “


His hiring of Nick Saban at LSU in 2000: (Emmert was then LSU’s president.) “His record at Michigan State was very impressive in that he had taken a team that was floundering and having a lot of NCAA problems. By the time he’d spent five years there they were ranked eighth or ninth in the country. They beat Michigan once in a while. That’s a tough place to win at, Michigan State.

“I didn’t know him I hadn’t met him but when I sat with him his football mentality, his analytical nature, the clear game plan for what you needed to do at LSU were just pretty stunning. It was a very, very easy choice.”

Posted on: August 15, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:18 am

Breaking: NCAA head contacts CEOs on realignment

NCAA president Mark Emmert has contacted various conference commissioners and school CEOs on the subject of conference realignment, the NCAA told CBSSports.com Monday.

There were no specifics but observers were wondering if Emmert would get involved in the increasingly volatile Texas A&M-to-SEC situation. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was giving permission to pursue conference affilation issues by the school's board of regents Monday. However, Loftin, in a sometimes confusing interview session, said there was still a chance the school could stay in the Big 12.

The NCAA released this statement first to CBSSports.com through a spokesman:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The presidents came away from that meeting promising radical reform in academics and in enforcement.

What was once thought to be a slam-dunk, done deal for A&M is now fraught with legal entanglements. The New York Times reported that the SEC is possibly leaving itself open for a tortious interference claim should it be perceived that the league is raiding the Big 12. Texas A&M may be looking at a buyout that approaches $30 million if it leaves the Big 12 only 14 months after the 10 remaining schools made a 10-year pledge to stay together.

It's clear that ESPN has a major stake in the issues being discussed. It could be upset that if the SEC gets Texas A&M that would allow the conference to renegotiate a new deal at a higher dollar value. The SEC is two years into a 20-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS. 

If A&M leaves, then that would put in jeopardy the future of the Big 12, which is due to go out to bid in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN within the next two years. ESPN could also be concerned about the future of, and its investment in, the Longhorn Network at Texas. 

In essence, ESPN would be paying more for the SEC but potentially lose a property in the Big 12 if that league breaks up. The net result, potentially, would be less inventory for ESPN to telecast. That's the reason why ESPN and Fox combined to save the Big 12 last summer. If it had dissolved, ESPN would have lost the Big 12 and possibiltiy been shut out of the Pac-12 if that league had gone on the open market.

As it stands, ESPN combined with Fox to get the rights to the new Pac-12. 

Posted on: August 8, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 7:36 pm

Q & A with Mark Emmert

It seemed like a good time to seek out Mark Emmert. The world has changed a lot even since the NCAA president's state-of-the-association press conference at the Final Four.

On the eve of this week's presidential retreat and a few days before Ohio State's infractions committee hearing -- both in his town -- Emmert talked to me about the issues of the day.

CBSSports.com: You said that this retreat had nothing to do with the current climate. When and why did you come up with it?

Emmert: "I was thinking about this even when I was transitioning into the job. One of my assumptions was, at some point as I came to know the NCAA, I would want to have a broad-based retreat with presidents.

"Then, as all the issues unfolded, and I got to spend more time with presidents commissioners and ADs and coaches it was clear that we have some very significant issues that need to get addressed. It has been months in the planning stage."

CBSSports.com: Has the retreat taken on an added significance because of the current climate of wrongdoing?

Emmert: "Absolutely. The high-profile cases that we've had have been these huge exclamation points about a number of the issues that we have especially around integrity problems."

CBSSports.com: What did you think about SEC commissioner Mike Slive's comment last month -- "Intercollegiate athletics has lost the benefit of the doubt"?

Emmert: "I've said that a number of times myself. I think it's true. It's true of most big institutions these days. It's hard to say that Congress has much of the benefit of the doubt. I daresay even parts of the media.

"We're in a moment in time where there is lots of skepticism. With these big cases that have been out there and the publicity that has surrounded them, there is a lot of reason the public and our fans and members of the higher education community have serious concerns. I'm among them."

CBSSports.com: What is significant about Slive and the rest of the commissioners making specific reform recommendations. Could you, for example, suggest a rise in the minimum GPA from 2.0 to 2.5?

Emmert: "Many of the issues that Mike and others have described have been works in progress for some time. Going from 2.0 to 2.5 is an active proposal that is coming out of the committee on academic performance ...

"I was delighted that Mike and [Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany] and all those putting proposals out there are doing so. It's a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package."

CBSSports.com: I just wonder if there is something else at work here?

Emmert: "I've been meeting with them as a group of 31 commissioners. Many of them individually. I've been to many of their presidential meetings. Everywhere I've gone the refrain is pretty much the same. We have some significant challenges that need to be addressed."

CBSSports.com: Ohio State president Gordon Gee said recently, that presidents go to these meetings and say all the right things. But as soon as they come back on campus there is tremendous pressure from their boards of directors or trustees to produce winning teams. How much leverage do presidents have since the change has to come from them?

Emmert: "The presidents at the end of the day are the ones who are responsible for all of our athletic programs ... They are the NCAA. They're the ones who have to make those calls.

"There always has been, for a century, this struggle to find the right balance between the academic component of sports, the athletic component and the entertainment component. At different points of time different elements of that equation have had greater sway. It varies by institution.

"Every school has to find that right balance. We as an association have to find it in total."

CBSSports.com: What is your stance on cost of attendance. In general everyone is for it, but you have said you have some concerns.

Emmert: "I am adamantly opposed to paying student-athletes to be athletes. There is merit in having discussion about increasing of the support they get to manage their legitimate costs of being a student, much like we would do with a merit scholar.

"As you know, there is presently a gap between what is provided through a full grant-in-aid and the legitimate cost of attendance. I am happy to have a conversation if we want to consider closing that gap, but nothing more than that."

CBSSports.com: Why does the vacating wins work as a deterrent? It seems like it is being used more frequently.

Emmert: "I don't know if I can answer what works as a deterrent and what doesn't. When you have someone win a competition with ineligible players ... it's not fair to the teams who were their opponents. If nothing else, it's a setting of the record straight.

"I hope it acts as a deterrent. People don't like to take banners down."

CBSSports.com: Why not TV bans? (The last was applied in the 1990s)

Emmert: "I don't think it should be off the table. I think it's one of the things that should be under consideration.

"What you have to do is find a way not to penalize other programs. If you can figure out solutions to that it shouldn't be off the table."

CBSSports.com: Should there be any more significance put on the Ohio State case given the climate right now?

Emmert: "I can't speak about any one individual case. All of the high-profile cases right now are getting special scrutiny because they came in such rapid succession."

CBSSports.com: Your predecessor Walter Byers once said, the only real change in the NCAA has to come from the outside. Do you agree with that?

Emmert: "Obviously, I don't. I wouldn't take this job. I can't speak to his comment. The point of this retreat is to demonstrate we can make real change and do it collectively ourselves.

"I don't think that's impossible. In fact, I think we're going to get a lot of good things done."

CBSSports.com: When can we expect something to emerge from this meeting?

Emmert: "It's critical we come out of this meeting with a clear commitment and level of support from the presidents about the issues that are most critical to them and are most critical to advancing intercollegiate athletics.

"Obviously, this group doesn't have any authority other than a group of presidents coming together. But they can state unequivocally what's important and what they think needs to have happen and the speed with which they'd like to see it happen.

"If we're going to move forward, I want us to move forward aggressively."

CBSSports.com: Do you have an opinion on if high school games should be televised?

Emmert: "It's a really interesting issue. First of all, high school games are televised. I suspect the televising of high school games will continue to grow and grow rapidly. What the role is for any of the conference and institutional networks is just a difficult question ...

"In the meanwhile, as you've seen some folks [Big 12] are self imposing their position on it. I'm sure the Division I board of directors and I are going to have a good discussion about it. It may well be a time where we pause and figure it out and move on."

Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 10:17 am

What to expect from this week's NCAA retreat

Let's calculate the odds of any real change coming out of this week's NCAA presidential retreat.

All we have is history which has not been kind. In the late 1980s, the nation's college presidents were charged with taking control of athletic landscape amid a time of scandal. In other words, live up to their job description.

So much for that. In the quarter century since 1987 (SMU death penalty) college football has averaged three football major violation cases per year. In one 13-day period in July (during our reform series, consequently), three schools went on probation in football in less than two weeks.

The presidential initiative hasn't failed -- the venerable Myles Brand was the first NCAA CEO to come from the academic side. It has been more uneven. For good reason.

Athletics aren't a front burner item to most college CEOs. They are in charge of what are frequently billion-dollar budgets. Athletics is a small part of that budget. They would be no big deal if the embarrassment factor weren't plugged in.

"Athletics is about two percent of my budget," Penn State president Graham Spanier said, "but probably 10 percent of my time. Clearly, I spend a disproportionate time on athletics. It's the one area that brings credit to you if you do it right. At the same time it's the area of the university that has the chance to bring discredit to the university."

Remember, this is from the CEO of one of two schools with football national championships that have never had a major violation in football. (BYU is the other.)

Look at what has happened recently at Ohio State and North Carolina. The presidents, in a way, have ignored the importance of athletics as their school's reputation took a hit. Ohio State's outgoing Gordon Gee is still being ripped for his March 8 comment about Jim Tressel.

"I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."

While watching his football program slowly disintegrate from within, North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp inadvertently committed an NCAA secondary violation.

These are the leaders of the NCAA. And their time is running out.

"I'm deeply worried about football," Spanier told me this summer. "I believe if we don't fix some of the problems in football, [that] in five years it will be as bad as basketball."

That's as damning as it gets. There are a lot of folks in college athletics who believe basketball is so far gone that it is irretrievable. Football still has a chance. That's why this retreat was called, to discuss the big picture but to concentrate on football.

A collection of presidents (Spanier is among them), ADs and commissioners will gather in Indy to discuss academic success, fiscal sustainability and integrity. Those are NCAA president Mark Emmert's words. We'll see if anything comes of them.

The difference this time is we have talking points. Most notably, SEC commissioner Mike Slive proposed a new model at the conference media days. The BCS commissioners basically agree with him.

If the NCAA (read: presidents) don't take significant action on those proposals, the commissioners can throw up their hands and say, "Hey, we tried our best." In a small way, Slive's words publicized the leverage those commissioners hold. Do nothing, and the minutia of the NCAA Manual could drive them to someday break away and form their own division.

That move alone could be driven by the current discussion over cost of attendance. But NCAA president Mark Emmert is against any kind of model that would make players employees.

"I am adamantly opposed to paying student-athletes to be athletes," he told me. "There is merit in having discussion about increasing of the support they get to manage their legitimate costs of being a student."

We're back, then, to the old conundrum of fitting a profit-driven pursuit into an academic/amateur model.

"I would rather do away with collegiate athletics than abandon the amateur model," Spanier said.

 It is more than interesting that it is the commissioners who are suddenly taking the lead on NCAA reform.

"It's a different day when commissioners are almost in competition to see who can come up with the best reform package," Emmert said.

Slive makes perfect sense when he suggests doing away with text and phone call limitations for coaches. This is how modern teenagers communicate. If they choose not to respond to a coach, they don't have to.

"When you really think about it, why can't coaches make phone calls?" Slive said. "Our focus needs to be on those rules and regulations that go to the heart and soul of the integrity we want in intercollegiate athletics."

In other words, smash the Tressels. Ignore the texters.

So it's up to you, presidents. If you don't want to get that integrity back it's time for action. In a vague and complicated way, those commissioners have issued a challenge. It has become clear that the NCAA controls basketball because of the billions being produced by the tournament. The commissioners, though, control football. They created and manage the BCS, which awards $200 million in bowl payouts.

And if you control football, you control college athletics. Slive did what Emmert couldn't, call from specific sweeping changes to the NCAA. Emmert has no real power on the subject. He is a figurehead -- a highly educated and accomplished one, but still a figurehead. He represents 1,200 schools with different constituencies, goals and budgets.

All you have to do is look at the Longhorn Network situation. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe took the lead, issuing a temporary ban on televising high school games. Big 12 ADs voted unanimously last week on a one-year moratorium. With a summit addressing the issue scheduled for later this month, I asked Emmert if there was any NCAA bylaw to cover the televising of prep games.

"Maybe," he said. 

(Here is a full Q & A with Emmert.)

Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 12:10 pm

Statement in Todd McNair case

The following is a statement from Todd McNair's lawyer after the NCAA formally denied his client's appeal on Friday. Scott Tompsett has had 20 years' experience representing coaches in NCAA cases. He has been involved in more than 50 such cases:

"Mr. McNair is disappointed in the decision, but he’s not surprised. After all, the NCAA publicly endorsed the Infractions Committee’s decision last June before we had even filed the notice of appeal. And NCAA President Mark Emmert said last December – while the Infractions Appeals Committee was still deliberating the appeal -  that he believed the Infractions Committee got the USC case right. So, today’s decision simply confirms what the NCAA leadership had already decreed publicly.  

"Dr. Emmert also recently said it’s important for the NCAA to get the facts right in an infractions case. He’s correct; the NCAA owes it to involved parties, the NCAA membership and the public to get the facts right. The NCAA should get the facts right when it ends a coach’s career.  

"But Dr. Emmert apparently wasn’t referring to the USC case when he talked about getting the facts right, because the Infractions Committee mischaracterized and manipulated key testimony. The Infractions Committee based Mr. McNair’s unethical conduct finding on demonstrably false statements. The Infractions Committee based its decision on inconsistent and contradictory findings. And today the Infractions Appeal Committee said that’s OK.  

"Mr. McNair had hoped the Infractions Appeal Committee would set aside his unethical conduct finding so he can try to resume his career. The decision today makes that very difficult.  

"Mr. McNair wants to thank the media outlets that have reported on his case. Several articles by USCFootball.com have reported on the numerous errors committed by the NCAA in Mr. McNair’s case. ESPN.com said the NCAA’s handling of McNair’s case was sloppy and arbitrary, and called McNair’s appeal strong and compelling. ESPN.com also said the NCAA’s finding offends any notion of fair play. SI.com said the NCAA’s evidence against McNair was questionable at best. These are not Mr. McNair’s statements; they are conclusions of independent media outlets.  

"Moreover, according to reports, the United States Congress is considering holding investigative hearings into the NCAA’s enforcement procedures, in part because of the NCAA’s mishandling of Mr. McNair’s case.  It appears the NCAA stands alone in believing Mr. McNair is guilty of a major violation.  

"Mr. McNair is now considering legal action to remedy the injustice he has suffered. This has been a very difficult and trying experience for Mr. McNair and his family. He wants to publicly thank his many supporters for their interest in his case and unwavering support."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com