NCAA Chief Operating Officer Jim Isch will retire from the national office in early 2015 after transitioning from his role as chief operating officer this fall.
Isch, who has worked at the NCAA since 1998, has served in various executive positions during his time with the national office. He was senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer before serving as interim NCAA president following the death of former president Myles Brand.
When Mark Emmert was named NCAA president in 2010, he appointed Isch as COO.
Isch led numerous national efforts in strategic planning and fiscal responsibility during his tenure at the national office, including Brand’s first major initiative, a new NCAA strategic plan created in 2003-04, and the NCAA Presidential Task Force in 2006.
Isch spearheaded an effort out of the task force that led to the creation of financial dashboards now available to every NCAA member. The system allows presidents and other campus leaders to compare their athletics spending with peer groups using financial data compiled through uniform reporting procedures developed by the NCAA and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. In 2010, Isch played a pivotal role in negotiating the $10.8 billion, 14-year television rights agreement between the NCAA, CBS and Turner. Recently, he led national office efforts to enhance accountability by employing data to inform and improve decision-making.
“Over the last 17 years I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented and dedicated people here at the national office and throughout our membership. Although sometimes the challenges were great, it is rewarding to see the positive changes in college sports from academics to health and safety, and all the major improvements to how we support student-athletes across all three divisions,” Isch said. “Although retirement will allow me to spend more time with my family, particularly my grandchildren, I will definitely miss working with the NCAA staff and our membership.”
Isch will serve in an advisory role to Emmert until his retirement in early 2015.
Prior to joining the national office, Isch was vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and also held senior staff positions at Montana State University, Bozeman, and Kansas State University.
Emmert lauded Isch’s service to higher education and college athletics.
“Jim has devoted his career to serving young people, and he has distinguished himself as a leader at the campus level and nationally as well,” Emmert said. “Whether he is working with our national office staff, student-athletes or college presidents, his ability to connect with others is exemplary. We all will miss his dedication, wit and personality, and I personally wish him and his family the best for the future.”
With Isch’s departure, Emmert announced a reorganization of senior staff at the NCAA, including the creation of a new executive vice president position to oversee all regulatory matters. The chief operating officer role and duties will be reallocated to other senior staff.
The new position will for the first time bring all national office regulatory functions – Academic and Membership Affairs, the Eligibility Center and Enforcement – under one umbrella.
A committee of member representatives and national office staff, chaired by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and assisted by Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president for championships and alliances, will guide an outside firm in a national search to fill the new executive vice president position. The search firm and committee members will be announced at a later date.
Emmert hopes to name the new executive vice president sometime this fall.
The new regulatory affairs executive will be a part of the executive team that reports directly to Emmert, along with Lewis; Donald Remy, executive vice president of law, policy and governance and chief legal officer; Bernard Franklin, executive vice president of education, community engagement and chief inclusion officer; Kathleen McNeely, senior vice president of administration and chief financial officer; Bob Williams, senior vice president of communications; and Cari Klecka, chief of staff.
The reorganization also changes some reporting lines and other responsibilities at the national office. In addition to promotions for McNeely, Williams and Klecka, Chief Medical Officer Brian Hainline and the Sport Science Institute will report to Remy, while human resources will report to McNeely. Franklin will take on a greater role in engagement with local Indianapolis civic organizations and serve as primary liaison with new university presidents.
The reorganization will be effective October 1.