Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will be the next president of the NCAA, replacing Mark Emmert on March 1.
Baker has served as a Republican governor since 2015 but did not run for reelection this year. His term will end Jan. 5.
Emmert announced in April he was stepping down as NCAA president after 12 years in the role, planning to serve until June 2023 or until a new president was selected.
"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," Board of Governors Chair John J. DeGioia said in a statement at the time. "It also allows for the selection and recruitment of the next president without disruption."
The NCAA has undergone significant changes in recent years, most notably allowing players to profit off their name, image and likeness rights.
The governing body of college sports had been hesitant to allow NIL until individual states began creating laws legalizing it for athletes.
In June 2021, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the NCAA was not exempt from antitrust laws and therefore had to allow athletes to receive NIL payments.
Massachusetts lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize NIL in 2019, but it has not been signed into law. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has since approved NIL for high school athletes.
Other lawmakers have gotten involved in NCAA affairs as of late. Five Democratic senators introduced a new version of the College Athlete Bill of Rights in August. A bipartisan group in Congress has also attempted to create a federal law that would affect the NCAA's ability to punish member schools.
Baker's political background could help him navigate these issues.
According to Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, those involved in the search believe the 66-year-old is "uniquely suited to the NCAA's present needs" thanks to his record of "successfully forging bipartisan solutions to complex problems."
Baker also has experience as an NCAA student-athlete, playing basketball as an undergraduate at Harvard.