Yesterday morning, NCAA president Mark Emmert dropped the proverbial hammer on Penn State University. As most of you know, I believe the decision to suddenly change the NCAA’s mission and jurisdiction was driven by a desire for applause and will eventually result in difficulties for college sports’ governing body. But this post isn’t about whether Emmert erred — he did — or whether so many Penn Staters’ decisions to look-the-other-way were atrocious — they were.
This isn’t as much about what Emmert said during yesterday’s press conference, either (though his words were played again and again on television and radio all day Monday). Nope, this post has more to do with what Emmert didn’t say during his presser.
What Emmert did say: “No price the NCAA can levy will repair the grievous damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims. However, we can make clear that the culture, actions and inactions that allowed them to be victimized will not be tolerated in collegiate athletics.”
What Emmert did not say: “Hey, did you see all those colleges switch conferences earlier this month? West Virginia to the Big 12 where it’s nearest rival is in Iowa? Oh, it all may seem crazy, but it was all about mucho dinero, my friends.”
What Emmert did say: “If you find yourself in a place where the athletic culture is taking precedence over academic culture then a variety of bad things can occur.”
What Emmert did not say: “Whoo-boy, $80 million bucks a year for Rose Bowl television rights!?! Imagine the cash that schools will bring in from their new college football playoff. You know, the one that will force our student-athletes to play more games and increase their risk of injury.”
What Emmert did say: “These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgement of educators.”
What Emmert did not say: “I’m making 1.6 million greenbacks a year, suckers, and that wouldn’t be possible without the mega-TV contracts we cut with networks that are desperate to air our NCAA basketball tourney each year!”
Anyone who’s read this site for very long knows that I am no serial basher of the NCAA. In fact, I’ve often defended the governing body because many/most folks take shots at them for anything/everything. Most of the time, the gripes the NCAA endures just aren’t legit.
But for Emmert to try and trot out a “change the culture” line when the very presidents who gave him the power to make Monday’s ruling have themselves moved their schools from one conference to another and created a new football playoff all due to a lust for cash? And for Emmert to suggest that there’s too much emphasis placed on sports when he himself makes $1.6 million per year for guiding an institution founded to govern — wait for it — sports?
Sorry, but that’s just too much double-talk for me, too many mixed messages. That has nothing to do with Emmert’s decision to plow Penn State’s field. It does have something to do with what Emmert did say and even more to do with what he didn’t say while plowing said field.
Change the culture my foot. When big-time NCAA institutions no longer put television contracts and conference payouts first, then Emmert can talk about changing the culture. The realists out there know that the money made from collegiate athletics is exactly what drives the type of culture Emmert badmouthed on Monday. Well, that money’s not getting any smaller. So the NCAA prez better not hold his breath expecting schools to change their cultures.