Too little too late? Mark Emmert discusses smaller role for NCAA in college sports
The NCAA is at a crossroads this year as the organization faces escalating challenges from the courts, Congress and its own member schools.
President Mark Emmert on Thursday laid out a new philosophy for the NCAA, which is to allow for more local decision-making and less on the national level. Emmert described this moment of change swirling around the association as an opportunity to reposition its role over the next several decades. College athletes can make money off their name, image and likeness, and it’s now in an environment where the NCAA could be an even bigger target of antitrust litigation following its recent unanimous Supreme Court loss.
“For decades, 50 years or more, the tendency has been that anytime there’s an issue or concern, it’s been moved up to a national rule,” Emmert told a small group of reporters, per USA Today. “Whether it was something advanced by a school or a conference, it was always kicked up to the national level.
“I’m confident we need to reconsider delegation of a lot of things that are now done at the national level … it should only be at that level if it’s the only place it can get done, if that’s the only place it makes sense to have a rule developed and enforced.”
“It forces us to think more about what constraints should be put in place on college athletes, and it should be the bare minimum — those that are essential at a national level, those that are essential for the continuation of sport and making it work well,” Emmert said. “It allows a complete rethink of a whole lot of policies.”
Emmert said he believes college presidents are motivated to act with urgency because they are tired of the narrative that college athletics has become an exploitative enterprise and want to refocus on the opportunities sports provide. Emmert even brought up the idea of a federated model, similar to the U.S. Olympic Committee, where each sport is managed by its own national governing body.
“We have had this tendency to be as homogenous as we can in treating every sport identically, and that doesn’t work,” he said. “We need to say field hockey is different from football and not get so hung up on having everything be the same.”