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NCAA Head Gets Vote Of Confidence Despite Foul Up

NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions
Intiaz Rahim via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
NCAA Headquarters and Hall of Champions

NCAA president Mark Emmert is bad at his job, but he still gets a vote of confidence.

Before Mark Emmert became president of the NCAA, the governing body of college athletics, he was president of the University of Washington and chancellor of LSU.

And Jack DeGioia has been president of Georgetown University since July of 2001, so surely the two men’s paths have crossed as once and current leaders of some of the nation’s best known institutions of higher learning.

And, as DeGioia is currently the chair of the NCAA’s Board of Governors, which supervises the organization, they must have developed some sort of working relationship, perhaps even a friendship.

And sometimes, friends do friends a solid in times of trouble, which Emmert is certainly facing.

That must be the explanation for DeGioia’s decision to issue a vote of confidence to Emmert over the weekend. That, or this is the definition of irony being played out.

For the uninitiated, votes of confidence are usually issued to a person not long before they are terminated from their posts. And there are few people in sports or in American society who should be bounced on their, um, ear, more than Mark Emmert.

For most of his 11-year term, Emmert has been a failure at running the NCAA ethically and efficiently.

The college cartel has constantly given back of the hand treatment to the very constituency that keeps it going, namely the athletes.

The NCAA has gone to great lengths and great expense to deny rights and opportunities to the young people who are the lifeblood of college sports.

It has consistently moved to keep college athletes from organizing to protect their rights. It has tried to narrow their chances to monetize their abilities while clutching their precious and outdated notion of amateurism.

Even now, as legislatures are moving to make laws to fix the situation, Emmert refused to meet with athletes this week to discuss their complaints until after the basketball tournaments are over.

Under Emmert’s rule, the NCAA has gotten it wrong over and over again and usually looked foolish in the process.

As we laid out recently, the organization botched providing equal access to workout facilities for men and women during the basketball tournament.

The women were eventually made whole and Emmert authorized the hiring of a law firm to study gender equity issues relating to what happened to the women in San Antonio and what happens in other sports where both genders participate.

In the immediate aftermath, Emmert, as any bad boss does, criticized publicly, laying the blame on staff for poor communication between the men and women.

Be that as it may, DeGioia said Emmert had acted appropriately in trying to solve the problem. A problem, you might say, was of his own idiotic making.

Again, in nearly every way that matters, Emmert has been a failure. There is, of course, one way where Emmert has succeeded and it is the one that matters most.

During his time, the NCAA has signed contracts with CBS, Warner Media and ESPN to televise the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments for billions of dollars in revenue that flow to the member schools, which form Emmert’s constituency.

So, while Mark Emmert may get a lot wrong, to people like Jack DeGioia he gets it right where it counts.

And that’s how I see it for this week.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @SportsAtLarge

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.