NCAA president Mark Emmert spoke with reporters Thursday at an Associated Press Sports Editors meeting in New York City and touched on some of the issues facing collegiate athletics.
Emmert discussed the Big Ten’s recent proposal for freshmen ineligibility in football and men’s basketball, saying the NCAA has been “heavily involved” in the conversation.
“I’m really pleased that the Big Ten presidents want to at least have the conversation about it, because it’s worth having,” Emmert said according to USA Today.
Emmert said the idea has "all kinds of problems" and is "highly controversial," but is "worthy of debate."
Emmert especially didn't seem to be on board with freshmen ineligibility if its main purpose is to curb the number of college basketball recruits who declare for the NBA after one year in school.
“The real question we need to address is, are students sufficiently serious about being students as well as athletes? And are they sufficiently prepared to be successful as a student as well as an athlete?” Emmert said.
Emmert, while pointing out the NCAA’s minimum grade-point average increasing from 2.0 to 2.3 next year, said one potential benefit for freshmen ineligibility would be to help student-athletes who may be behind academically compared to their peers.
Regarding an issue that solely pertains to college football, Emmert said coaches participating in satellite camps is “on the top” of the NCAA oversight committee’s list of issues to look at.
Big Ten coaches – particularly Penn State’s James Franklin and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh – are scheduled to participate as guest coaches at football camps across the country this summer. Franklin and his staff were at camps in Florida and Georgia last summer and are scheduled to attend five more this year. Meanwhile, Michigan’s staff is attending nine camps in seven states in June.
The SEC, which outlaws such a practice, wants to see it banned. ACC commissioner John Swofford voiced a similar sentiment Thursday.
"Whether they throw the gates open or whether they close it down will be their call," Emmert said per the Associated Press. "Having different rules in different places, that's a de facto decision. If one or more conferences is doing it then it seem inevitable that all the conferences will say, 'Yes, let's do it.' So that's a decision by default. If that's where they (the oversight committee) want to be, fine but at least make a conscious decision."
Additionally, Emmert was again asked about the NCAA’s handling of the scandal at Penn State in which the football program was hit with scholarship reductions, a bowl ban, vacated wins and the school was fined $60 million. Emmert said Thursday that the sanctions were “right and appropriate,” even though 112 of the program’s wins were restored and the scholarship reductions and bowl ban were lifted.
Emmert did concede, however, that the NCAA could have “handled the communication differently.”
“I think communication could have been handled a lot better,” Emmert said. “Certainly I could have done that a lot better. But the reality is it was a very, very difficult circumstance for the university. I think the executive committee wound up in the right place.”
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