As part of a forum at Marquette University, NCAA president Mark Emmert reinforced his stance that the NCAA should not and will not pay college athletes, even if the NCAA organizational structure changes. A so-called “super division” doesn’t threaten the continued existence of the organization according to Emmert, although it is widely believed that the creation of such a division would spur some significant changes.
First, here are Emmert’s remarks, via an AP report:
One thing that sets the fundamental tone is there’s very few members and, virtually no university president, that thinks it’s a good idea to convert student-athletes into paid employees. Literally into professionals,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday at Marquette University. “Then you have something very different from collegiate athletics. One of the guiding principles (of the NCAA) has been that this is about students who play sports.
(There’s) enormous tension right now that’s growing between the collegiate model and the commercial model,” said Emmert, who spoke as part of Marquette’s “On the Issues” forum. “And, by the way, this is nothing new. This tension has been going on forever and ever. It has gotten greater now because the magnitude of dollars has gotten really, really large.
The most valuable (television) products are things you have to watch in real time, and that’s sports and ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” he added. “So we’re seeing an explosion in the value of sports media properties and that’s injected a lot of revenue into sports. … That’s led to a lot of the discussion. This whole notion of, first and foremost, treating student-athletes in fair fashion while still maintaining the student-athlete, is at the core of all of this.
Emmert also pointed to NFL and NBA rules that prohibit athletes from turning pro immediately after high school, and suggested that perhaps baseball’s model is more appropriate.
It’s a dynamic tension that we really need to work on because it’s at heart of part of what (we’re) talking about here,” he said. “Why would we want to force someone to go to school when they really don’t want to be there? But if you’re going to come to us, you’re going to be a student.
While Emmert maintains that a “super division” would not result in member institutions leaving the NCAA, it’s easy to see that such a creation could lead to some sweeping changes. While the NCAA Board of Directors has twice passed rule changes that would allow athletes to receive an additional stipend, the changes have been overridden by the full membership of the NCAA. It’s quite possible (probable even) that a super division could adopt such rules, and pay their athletes stipends, while the lower divisions do not. It’s perhaps conceivable that a super division could adopt rules allowing athletes to profit from their likeness, via endorsements, autographs, and marketing efforts. For now, though, Emmert is holding firm to the company line, and no immediate changes are on the horizon.