Posted by Adam Jacobi
Ever heard of Mark Emmert? Probably not, but that's about to change. Emmert, currently the University of Washington president, was named the NCAA's next president, and Emmert will assume the role in October. He's got a lot of work ahead of him.
Principal among Emmert's concerns, according to an interview he gave with the USA Today, is enforcement, and rightly so; every vacated win, championship appearance, or Heisman Trophy is a black eye for an organization that has tasked itself with preserving athletic amateurism at all costs.
There's an important point to be made here, that Emmert's focus is on enforcement and not, say, legislation; Emmert hasn't talked about adding new rules nearly as much as putting more heat on offenders of existing rules, and this shift in priorities will almost certainly extend to the staff structure itself:
Emmert wouldn't rule out a reduction in the NCAA's staff of almost 500, paralleling cost-reduction efforts at many individual schools. But he was emphatic Tuesday that any such measures wouldn't extend to enforcement
That staff, Emmert said, "potentially" could grow.
Responding in part to the concerns of conference commissioners, the NCAA has beefed up enforcement efforts in men's basketball in particular. It broke off three investigators two years ago to focus solely on the sport, and is putting three new investigators on the team this month.
Of course, Emmert's efforts will likely be insufficient (or, at the very least, certainly more inefficient) if he can't remove the incentives or dramatically increase disincentives for misbehavior in the first place. Agents still pursue athletes while they're in college because it still makes good business sense. Coaches still figure out a way to get money into players' and AAU coaches' hands because in the unlikely event that they're caught, they can still count on having a job, either at the school or somewhere else. That's Emmert's primary challenge, right there.