NCAA president Mark Emmert to step down by June 2023
On Tuesday the NCAA announced longtime president Mark Emmert, 69, will be stepping down from his role with the association. The former University of Washington president (2004-10) who has been at the help of college sports’ governing body since 2010, Emmert will continue to serve in his role until a new president is selected and in place or until June 30, 2023, whichever comes first.
“Throughout my tenure, I’ve emphasized the need to focus on the experience and priorities of student-athletes,” Emmert said in a statement from the NCAA. “I am extremely proud of the work of the Association over the last 12 years and especially pleased with the hard work and dedication of the national office staff here in Indianapolis.”
The decision for Emmert to step down came via mutual agreement between the president and the NCAA Board of Governors, according to a release. And it comes at a time when college sports, particularly at the top, need guidance more than ever. With student-athletes being granted the ability to market and monetize their Name, Image, and Likeness, loosened transfer restrictions leading to a rapidly bottlenecking transfer issue, and the threat (however real) that college football’s top conferences might break from the NCAA looming down the pipeline, whoever takes Emmert’s place will have little runway to get used to the job.
“With the significant transitions underway within college sports, the timing of this decision provides the Association with consistent leadership during the coming months plus the opportunity to consider what will be the future role of the president,” said NCAA board chairman John J. DeGioia. “It also allows for the selection and recruitment of the next president without disruption.”
The NCAA also ratified a new constitution this January that will see the organization undergo a good bit of restructuring. Emmert, just last year, was given a contract extension through 2025 that would pay him a reported salary of $2.7 million despite significant outcry over his handling of, among other things, NIL legislation.
According to SI’s Ross Dellenger, that extension given to Emmert “shocked” and “pissed off” numerous athletics administrators.
Last June, hours before state laws in places like Texas and Florida opened the market for student-athletes to begin profiting from NIL opportunities, the NCAA approved changes to restrictions on student-athletes earning money for things regular students could already earn money on.
The NCAA slow-played the NIL topic for months in the lead-up and in a pinch at the end failed to provide any guardrails that coaches are now calling for across the country.
Additionally, Emmert presided over a period that saw the NCAA lose a 9-0 ruling in an antitrust case in front of the United States Supreme Court that allowed players to receive minor perks—education-related items like laptops, internships, or post-graduate opportunities.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh famously said that day the NCAA’s business model “would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”
On Emmert’s résumé also sits a scandal sparked by Oregon’s Sedona Prince, who last year shared a viral video calling out the NCAA for its inequitable treatment of the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Other women joined the fight and the NCAA commissioned a 118-page report to review its gender equity problems in women’s basketball. This past tournament marked the first time the NCAA women’s basketball tournament had been able to use “March Madness” branding.
There’s also the FBI investigation into men’s college basketball.
“Emmert needs to step up and be a leader and make some quicker decisions,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said in 2018.
Now, he’s stepping down. And the NCAA will search for a new leader to steer the ship.