Emmert instills change, NCAA passes new rules
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
GRAPEVINE, Texas — When Mark Emmert charged into the office of NCAA president 27 months ago, championing a reform agenda that was both ambitious and unusual for what has often been a ceremonial position, it marked a rare moment of opportunity for the complex organization that oversees college athletics.
Much of Emmert’s presidency, however, has been viewed as an era of big talk and relatively little action when it comes to dealing with key issues like agents, rules enforcement and athlete compensation beyond a scholarship. In the one major instance when Emmert used the power of his office broadly, spearheading historic penalties against Penn State, critics claimed he trampled on due process and pushed the NCAA to overstep its bounds.
But when the NCAA Division 1 Board of Directors passed a package of 25 rules reforms Saturday — Phase 1 in a multi-step, multi-year agenda — it marked a significant milestone in the 60-year-old Emmert’s tenure.
Whether any of the changes will have a significant lasting impact on college athletics is unclear. Most of them are simple deregulatory measures — for example, coaches can now text and call recruits as much as they want — that may go unnoticed by the general public.
But given the relative cooperation Emmert got in pushing this reform package through the various committees and processes, there is perhaps now a blueprint for how he can reshape the NCAA into the more efficient, tougher, common-sense organization he talked about when he took office as opposed to the uncontrollable beast that seemed to overwhelm his agenda for much of his first year as president.
“We’re all good critics,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said. “It’s a lot easier to stand on the sidelines and say, ‘You better fix these five things.’ There’s still a lot to do, and what we’re doing is not going to be perfectly implemented but I’m very proud of Mark and very pleased with the effort he’s putting in. His energy is unbelievable. There are a lot of people that felt a lot of meaningful changes did need to occur, but at the end of the day … [For more on Emmert instills change as NCAA passes new rules, click here.]