Jim Isch named NCAA chief operating officer: Isch, who served as NCAA interim president since Sept. 2009 following the death of president Myles Brand, joined the national office staff in 1998. Read the article »
NCAA President-Elect Mark Emmert today announced the national office focus and priorities moving forward and restructuring to achieve greater responsiveness to the NCAA membership and a more efficient operation.
“Our ‘reason for being’ is to assist our members in providing the best educational and athletic experience for student-athletes,” said Emmert. “To that end, it is essential that we understand and appreciate the challenges that exist on campus today and be certain we are doing everything possible to support our membership in this extremely important endeavor.”
Emmert, who was named the NCAA’s fifth CEO April 27, outlined three focus areas that will be his priorities when he arrives in early October.
First, the national office needs to have an abiding commitment to the student-athlete experience. The main priority will be for both the academic and athletics success of student-athletes.
A second point of focus will be to continue providing the platform for NCAA member institutions to govern intercollegiate athletics on a national basis. “The membership makes the decisions, but we have an obligation to help lead by identifying possible solutions and taking them to the membership,” said Emmert.
The third focus is the national office’s growing obligation to engage society beyond the comfortable confines of intercollegiate athletics and higher education. “Certainly, this means we have an ongoing need to tell our story, to build understanding of the collegiate model that encourages support,” added Emmert.
Additionally, organizational changes were announced to help position the national office to successfully address the focus areas and support the membership.
NCAA Interim President Jim Isch is appointed chief operating officer in the new structure. “Jim did a terrific job for the past year as interim president,” Emmert said. “His leadership has been superb during a critical period for the Association, and I want him to bring that same solution-oriented approach to the COO position.”
“Beginning in May, I have had conversations with each of the Association’s vice presidents, reviewed the results of studies focused on the culture of the national office, and listened to observations of key individuals in the NCAA membership,” Emmert said.
“What I discovered is a great staff, fully committed to the work of the organization and serving the NCAA membership. But there is a need for better communication and for taking full advantage of the talent in the office through stronger collaboration.”
As part of the restructuring, the incoming president said he will combine the management of all 88 championships under one executive vice president. Greg Shaheen, senior vice president of Division I Men’s Basketball and Business Strategies, will serve as the interim executive vice president and report to the COO.
“Our championships are one of the primary tools we have to enhance the student-athlete experience,” Emmert said. “We have advanced a handful of our championships into premier events, led by the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. I want to take advantage of what we’ve learned with those events and elevate the experience of student-athletes in other championship events. This will be a critical goal as we move forward.”
A second reorganized group will be branding and communications. Under the new structure, a vice president of communications, who will oversee media relations, publishing, new media and community relations, will be named and will report directly to the COO. Bob Williams, currently the managing director of public and media relations, will assume the interim role of vice president of communications effective Sept. 1.
“It has become clear to me that intercollegiate athletics has a great story to tell, and we need a focused approach that will take advantage of all the traditional modes of communications, as well as the Internet and other new media opportunities,” Emmert said.
The other elements of branding and communications – brand strategies and events and the Hall of Champions – will be reassigned to other groups.
Keith Martin will also continue as interim vice president of administration and chief financial officer, a role he has held since Isch was appointed interim NCAA president.
Emmert also announced the formation of his senior management group, consisting of the following:
“This is the team I will call on frequently to provide leadership on major issues in intercollegiate athletics,” Emmert said. “Of course, I will also seek the input of the other vice presidents and the entire staff for advice in their specific areas of expertise.”
Emmert said he was pleased to have the continued support of Bernard Franklin, executive vice president of membership and student-athlete affairs, in the new leadership structure. Franklin will continue in his leadership role for governance, academic and membership affairs, educational affairs, and diversity and inclusion.
“I’ve known Bernard for a long time,” Emmert said. “And he and Jim bring a critical understanding of the campus to the national office from their days in higher education at a number of institutions.”
The restructuring puts four interim leaders in place, and Emmert noted that searches for all four will begin soon and will include consideration of the interim vice presidents.
Emmert also announced the departure of three individuals in leadership roles in the national office. Tom Jernstedt, executive vice president of Division I women’s basketball, baseball and football will depart the NCAA staff at a mutually determined time. Dennis Cryder, senior vice president of branding and communications; and Elsa Cole, vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, will depart the staff effective Aug. 31.
Emmert noted he will be working closely with Isch and the NCAA leadership team to determine whether additional restructuring may be necessary in the coming months to best help the NCAA national office fulfill its core values, purpose and support to the membership.