Mark Emmert, NCAA Agree on New Contract: Latest Comments, Reaction

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2016

NCAA President Mark Emmert  addresses  a luncheon crowd at the NCAA Convention, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The NCAA and President Mark Emmert announced a three-year contract extension Monday that will keep him at college sports' highest position until October 2020.

“Mark has done an incredible job leading the Association through an unprecedented period of change and transformation,” Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz, chair of the Board of Governors, said in a statement. “I and the board feel strongly that Mark is integral in leading the Association forward as we navigate the complex and challenging way ahead, while better supporting student-athletes.”

The contract carries an option for an additional year, though it's unclear if that is at the discretion of the NCAA, Emmert or both parties. Emmert, 63, has been the NCAA president since 2010.   

Emmert, 63, has been the NCAA president since 2010.

He has presided over a period of unprecedented growth in major college sports, highlighted by the introduction of the College Football Playoff. That endeavor has been a financial bonanza for NCAA member schools, with ESPN paying more than $7 billion for television rights. Add that to the Turner/CBS partnership for the men's basketball tournament—a deal signed just before Emmert took office—and the NCAA is arguably in better financial shape than ever.

However, Emmert's run as president has not been without controversy. Public calls for paying athletes have grown as exponentially as the bank account, with many openly wondering if a multibillion dollar industry could justify spending a fraction of that cost on players.

Emmert in many ways has been the public face of that scorn, navigating pressure from fans and media alike. He has been a champion for the NCAA's role in college sports as a whole, most notably in the 2014 Ed O'Bannon case.

"It's essential there be a body that provides rule-making," Emmert said, per Sara Ganim of CNN. "One of the most fundamental principles of fair competition is that everyone is playing by the same rules. Everyone understands they are governing and conducting the game the same way from one side of the country to another. You couldn't do it nationally without those rules."

He also presided over the sanctions handed down against Penn State after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, against the University of Miami after the Nevin Shapiro scandal and against Syracuse University following its widespread academic malfeasance.

Public opinions on Emmert may vary, but he fills a similar role to that of Roger Goodell. He's in place to look out for the best interest of member schools and be the public face of any decision—controversial or otherwise—the NCAA makes. In that sense, he's more than done his job. 


Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter