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A note from NCAA President Mark Emmert:
It’s been about 100 days since my first day in the office as NCAA president. A lot can happen in 100 days, and intercollegiate athletics never lacks for action.
I’m getting to understand better an enterprise that I already knew well and like very much. I’ve visited campuses, conference offices, championships and conventions. I’ve listened to presidents, commissioners, athletics directors, coaches and – most importantly – student-athletes. I’ve learned that issues are plentiful, opinions are bountiful and solutions are sometimes difficult to forge.
NCAA President Mark Emmert welcomes attendees to the Scholarly Colloquium on the opening day of the 105th annual Convention.
But the best part is that I’ve confirmed what I already knew. Intercollegiate athletics is a truly great part of the American culture and a valuable asset to higher education and to those students who participate. I am more convinced than ever that I would hate to see higher education in this country without intercollegiate athletics. It adds immeasurably to the American university experience. It isn’t a perfect enterprise.
But our culture and campuses wouldn’t be as exciting or as connected as they are without college sports, and the lives of our 430,000 student-athletes would be significantly diminished.
Still, intercollegiate athletics can be better.
As I’ve traveled around the country the last three months, I’ve said that my short-term focus will be on three broad areas.
First, I want to focus on the success of student-athletes. When coaches sit in the front rooms of students they recruit, they invariably promise two things: the opportunity to play their sport at an elite level and the opportunity for a great education.
I want to ensure we make good on those promises.
The NCAA conducts great championships, attends to the integrity of college sports and generates revenue to help support athletics programs. But there is nothing we do that is more important than hold ourselves and member institutions to those two promises – the forthright opportunities to play sports and get a great education.
Second, we have to strengthen the ability of colleges and universities to govern intercollegiate athletics through the NCAA.
This is not insignificant. There is a right and proper tension between the highly valued autonomy of each campus and the coming together as an association to set boundaries for behavior and empower sanctions when those boundaries are breached. Higher education does so in athletics in ways done almost nowhere else, and we want to protect those platforms and make sure they serve the interests of our members and our students.
Third, I want to engage the world beyond athletics and the campus to help them better understand why intercollegiate athletics is a valuable asset to higher education and to student-athletes. There is considerable misunderstanding about this enterprise and how well student-athletes are doing. From within, we have either contributed to these misunderstandings or failed to tell well our stories. You will see significant changes beginning now in how we tell those stories. Those stories will only be as good as we are in supporting the success of student-athletes.
All our decisions and all our actions need to be based upon a simple question: How will this help our student-athletes in their sport, in their education and in their lives? The NCAA and our member colleges and universities exist to promote the student success, and I am excited about working with all of you to that end.