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NCAA Names New President

Sports

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker | Image by State of Massachusetts

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) as its next president on Tuesday morning.

An NCAA Board of Governors subcommittee selected Baker as the next NCAA president. He is a former Harvard basketball player from the late 1970s—the same era as legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

“Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus, taking on complex challenges in innovative and effective ways,” said the NCAA Board of Governor’s chair Linda A. Livingstone. “As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to 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 policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”

Baker became the 72nd governor of Massachusetts in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019. He has degrees from Harvard and Northwestern and is known for his work in healthcare. Under his guidance, there has been an emphasis on the local economy and small businesses.

Before becoming governor, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Although he has no prior college administrative experience, the committee believes he can help modernize college athletics and deal with some of the recent legal concerns because of his “history of forging bipartisan solutions to complex problems.”

One of those problems would include the governance of name, image, and likeness (NIL) policies. The NCAA introduced NIL on July 1, 2021, as a way for athletes at all levels to benefit financially from opportunities that involved their name, image, or likeness. Some states have even begun to allow high school athletes to benefit from NIL deals.

NIL was not intended as a “pay-for-play” policy, yet some would argue it has been followed as if it were one. The NCAA has since attempted to rectify and clarify its policies but with little success. Currently, each state is responsible for passing its own NIL laws and regulations, which has caused some outrage because the lack of consistency and proper guidance across the board gives certain schools advantages over those in other states.

The NCAA is also looking into making “sweeping changes” stemming from a 2020 report from the Knight Commission.

The previous NCAA president, Mark Emmert, announced his resignation in April after nearly 12 years in the role. He remained in the post until a new president was found and will serve as an advisor for the NCAA until June 2023.

The seven-member search committee consisted of members from all three levels of NCAA competition, including five university presidents, one independent member, and one student-athlete representative to find his replacement. Those members were Livingstone (also the president of Baylor University), Springfield college president Mary-Beth Cooper, University of Georgia president Jere Moorehead, Minot State University president Steven Shirley, Ohio Valley Conference commissioner Beth DeBauche, former Duke basketball and NBA star Grant Hill (independent member), and former University of Texas at Dallas baseball player Isaiah Swann (student-athlete representative).

Baker released the following statement:

“I am honored to become the next president of the NCAA, an organization that impacts millions of families and countless communities across this country every day. The NCAA is confronting complex and significant challenges, but I am excited to get to work as the awesome opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is more than worth the challenge. And for the fans that faithfully fill stadiums, stands, and gyms from coast to coast, I am eager to ensure the competitions we all love to follow are there for generations to come. Over the coming months, I will begin working with student-athletes and NCAA members as we modernize college sports to suit today’s world, while preserving its essential value.”

Baker served two terms as governor in Massachusetts, and his current term will end in January. He will officially become the NCAA president on March 1, 2023.

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