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New NCAA president takes over with full plate

CBSSports.com wire reports
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INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA President Mark Emmert had a full schedule on his first full day at headquarters.

Sports fans are watching every twist in the wide-ranging agent investigation, university presidents want to see how Emmert will enhance academic reforms, schools are eager to get their big paychecks and Emmert is still going through the basics of Transition 101.

"The first order of business is to meet everyone in the office and to get out there and start listening to the constituents and hearing what their concerns and ideas are," Emmert told the Associated Press. "I've talked a great deal about the need to stay focused on the student-athlete, the academic progress of the student-athlete."

It seems like an eternity since the NCAA's executive committee chose Emmert to be the late Myles Brand's long-term successor.

In those five-plus months, not much has changed.

College basketball teams will begin their first season with a 68-team tournament in less than two weeks. Rules enforcement has become a much larger focus following the Southern Cal decision, the forfeiture of Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy and growing concerns about keeping agents away from college players.

But it has given Emmert time to establish a broad philosophy that could have a major impact on how the NCAA goes about its business.

Like Brand, he embraces big ideas, big concepts and wants to build consensus.

"The piece that we all know intuitively about sports in America is the very large role they play in our society, and while you know that intellectually, to see that play out firsthand is a reminder about how important this enterprise is to so many people," he said. "Of course, everybody has suggestions about what I need to fix first."

So where will he begin?

Emmert already has outlined a few areas of interest.

Last month, the former University of Washington president said he supported stronger punishments for rules violators, which could lead to a larger enforcement staff. He's also met with NBA commissioner David Stern to discuss new requirements for underclassmen entering the NBA draft in hopes of eliminating the one-and-done concept.

"My primary interest is that the student has the best opportunity to get an education," Emmert said. "What we want is students to come in with every expectation that they're going to get an education, and we think we can help shape a high-quality educational experience for everyone so that they come out of it as a higher-educated student."

He also he wants to follow Brand's lead on the academic front.

During the Brand era, the NCAA created the Academic Progress Rate, billed as a real-time measure of how teams at each Division I school are doing in the classroom, and the Graduation Success Rate, which the NCAA describes as a better measuring stick than federal grad rates because it accounts for students who leave school in good academic standing. Both have become common acronyms in athletic department discussions around the nation.

If anything, Emmert wants to strengthen those academic-first concepts.

"Having Myles come in as the first university president was an enormously important transition for the NCAA. Just before he came into office, presidents had started to exercise more leadership in the organization," Emmert said. "He added momentum to the leadership because he was able to pull us all together. It lended a greater weight to those arguments because he was an academician."

Just days before he took the job, the NCAA signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion television deal for the men's basketball tournament. It will bring in an annual average of nearly $771.5 million at a time when many athletic departments are facing budget shortfalls.

Emmert said most of the new money will be returned to conferences or schools. The money going back to the schools will be based on the number of sports and scholarships offered at each one.

But Emmert also wants to make sure the NCAA is doing its part to contain costs, too, and has announced a restructuring that has seen some of the governing body's longest-tenured and highest-paid executives exiting.

"We want to get the most value for the dollars invested, that we are as efficient as possible and we have had internal and external communications about it," Emmert said. "I was able to spend time with the leadership and make a decision about the way I wanted to restructure the leadership team to make sure I'm a good steward of their resources. We want to be good stewards of the organization and the dollars of the organization. It's something every organization is doing."

Even as the NCAA begins a new, more inclusive era under Emmert.

"It's been a long transition, but we in academia don't ever do things quickly," Emmert joked. "I want to see what the opportunities are to expand the interaction of what the organization can do beyond the sports world."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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