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Feisty Emmert defends record as NCAA president

The SportsXchange

A combative and defiant Mark Emmert defended his record as president of the NCAA during his annual state of the union on Thursday afternoon at the Final Four in Atlanta.

Emmert's 45-minute news conference turned contentious at times. In fact, he fired a parting shot at a reporter who had called for his firing saying, "I know you're disappointed, but I'm still here."

Under his watch the NCAA has come under scrutiny for botching a number of investigations including its probe of a scandal involving a Miami booster. Emmert said the NCAA acknowledged its mistakes and made the necessary changes.

In addition, there have been complaints about how the NCAA handled other cases at Ohio State, Syracuse and Auburn.

The NCAA is facing a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania. According to CBSSports.com, Corbett believes the NCAA overstepped its authority when it imposed sanctions against Penn State over its handling of the Jerry Sandusky case, based largely on a scathing internal review led by former FBI chief Louis Freeh.

Emmert dismissed a USA Today story that accused him of shirking responsibility for problems at Connecticut, LSU and Montana State while he was in charge at those institutions. In the report, Emmert is labeled a "deft manager with politician-like savvy and a self-serving salesman who escapes blame when scandal hits."

Emmert did talk about how the NCAA has made progress under his leadership, but spent most of the news conference defending his record.

"The fact of the matter is that change is what we're about in the NCAA right now," he said, "and we're trying to work our way through some very, very difficult changes to make the whole notion of intercollegiate athletics strong and viable going into the second century of the NCAA and of college sport."

Emmert touted changes designed to toughen academic standards while streamlining the rule book to eliminate confusing guidelines and put the focus on more heinous offenses, such as paying players or fixing grades.
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