The NCAA named Governor MA Baker as its next president

The NCAA has selected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker as its next president, replacing Mark Emmert.

Baker, a Republican who has been governor since January 2015 but will finish his second term in January, will begin his new term on March 1. He served as power forward for Harvard’s basketball team during the 1977–78 season, but had no prior collegiate administration experience. . He has spent most of his career in the Massachusetts state government but spent a decade in health care administration. The 66-year-old Baker holds degrees from Harvard and Northwestern.

In April, Emmert announced he would be stepping down. He has chaired the NCAA since November 2010 and in April 2021 his contract was extended until 2025. Emmert will remain in an advisory role until June. Baker said he believes he is joining the organization at an “important” time for the NCAA, which is in the process of changing the way collegiate sports are regulated due to political and legal challenges to its business model.

“I think it’s worth it,” Baker said in a news conference Thursday afternoon. “It’s big and complicated, but there’s so much I’ve done in my life. Most of the time it’s totally worth it.”

Linda Livingstone, chairman of the NCAA board of governors and president of Baylor University, helped lead the search for a new president with six others, including former basketball superstar Duke Grant Hill, who is now a co-owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. Livingstone said Baker stood out as a candidate because of his track record of building bipartisan consensus at a time when the NCAA aimed to “engage and motivate” Congress to pass federal legislation that would give the NCAA legal permission to regulate how college athletes are compensated. .

“We are thrilled to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA and are eager for him to begin his work with our organization,” Livingstone said in a statement. “Governor Baker has demonstrated an uncanny ability to bridge divisions and build bipartisan consensus, dealing with complex challenges in innovative and effective ways. As a former student-athlete, husband of a former college gymnast, and father of two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience. These skills and perspectives will be invaluable as we work with policy makers to build a sustainable model for the future of collegiate athletics.”

Baker’s background in politics and policy fueled his candidacy, as the NCAA has faced several high-profile legal challenges in recent years. In 2021, the NCAA began allowing athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, but those regulations vary between states in the absence of federal policy, despite the wishes of major conference athletic directors and commissioners. In a release announcing Baker’s hiring, the NCAA noted “an untenable mix of state laws” had limited his authority.

Baker told reporters Thursday he was not ready to dive into details about some of the specific issues reshaping college sports, such as increases in transfers between schools and the evolving ways in which NCAA athletes were allowed to make money. He said his aim was, in part, to effect change while maintaining a section of collegiate sports that he believes is “one of the truly greatest human potential development organizations ever devised.”

Under Baker’s predecessor, Emmert, the NCAA had begun looking to shift more powers from its central national office in Indianapolis to individual divisions or conferences. Baker said he believed it was a good fit for his experience, having spent most of his career working on a “distributed decision-making model” of leadership.

“It’s about being an organizer and a collaborator of a very large organization that has many points of view and trying to find places where people can come together, agree and can make cases… about what the best way is to ensure we don’t lose these gems to the public.” front.”

Baker, whose term as governor ends Jan. 5, said he plans to attend this year’s NCAA convention in mid-January so he can start building relationships and develop a better understanding of the organization he will soon lead.

ESPN’s Dan Murphy contributed to this report

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