Mark Emmert on NCAA Rules, Online Courses, and Telling the Division III Story

Baltimore — In his first speech before the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association Thursday afternoon, the NCAA’s new president, Mark Emmert, fielded questions on everything from online courses to his desire to slim down the NCAA’s infamously robust rule book (an idea the faculty reps greeted with applause).

Below are a few snippets from their exchange:

On the enforcement of NCAA rules, particularly those regarding agents:

“We’re going to make sure our enforcement people have the resources they need, and we’re not going to back down from any of these things. Are we going to solve those issues once and for all? No. Are we going to make it hard for people who violate rules? Yes.”

On the Division I rule book:

“Can we even think about simplifying that rule book? I’m not the first one who’s had that thought. It’s like a bloody tax code—everything’s been put in there for a reason. It’s very hard. But I want us to make a stab at it anyway.”

On conference realignment:

“I am less alarmed by what we saw this summer than many. We have always had conference realignment and shifting. That’s not to say I’m not concerned about the driver of that. The conferences are you. Your presidents sit in the room and cast votes. I did it [when the Pac-10 presidents voted this year to invite Colorado and Utah]. We’ve got to make sure we look beyond just our 10 or 12 schools.”

On Division III:

“When you say ‘NCAA athlete,’ everyone immediately jumps to the Final Four. They don’t see the kid that’s fencing for a Division III school, and they need to. It’s a harder story to tell, but we need to find a way to do that.”

On athletes’ schedules:

“We’re going to have to find a way to get realistic about the time demands we place on athletes. We need to be realistic about the 20-hour rule. Most student-athletes—of their own volition—commit dramatically more than 20 hours a week to their sport. We all know that.”

On nontraditional courses for athletes, both in high school and in college:

“We can’t ban online courses, because they can be an important educational experience. Some are appropriate and some are not. It comes down to an issue of quality control: There are some really fabulous online programs, but the intention of those programs is rarely to supplant what happens on the campus, but rather to augment it or deal with students who can’t get to campus.”

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