NCAA President Mark Emmert left no doubt where he stands on paying college athletes when he addressed the Indianapolis media Dec. 5 at NCAA headquarters downtown.
Despite a recent NCAA rule change allowing a $2,000 increase in the stipend for student athletes, Emmert said he is staunchly against paying college athletes or letting them pursue commercial opportunities on their own while in college.
Emmert admitted that about 50 college football and 25 basketball programs were big moneymakers. But he added that “revenue generation is about providing scholarship opportunities.”
Emmert pulled together about 50 college presidents last month and plans to reconvene that leadership group next month and again in April to discuss a variety of what he calls major NCAA rules changes.
“Our rulebook is huge, it’s complicated, it includes rules that are unenforceable that don’t have an impact on the things we care about,” Emmert said.
He promised tougher academic standards starting in March 2013. If the new academic standards under consideration had been in place last year, Emmert said, eight NCAA Division I teams that played in bowl games would not have been eligible to do so and another seven would not have been eligible to play in the NCAA basketball tournament.
“I am adamant and the membership is adamant that we make changes fast ... rather than do what we have often done in our past which is pondering these issues and thinking about them and legislating them to death until you can’t really recognize what you’ve got when you’re done,” he said.
One thing Emmert said he would not support changing is making a pay-for-play system legal in any way.
“Every president of every university I’ve ever talked to believes and what I staunchly believe, if we move to paying student athletes to play the games that they play, we will destroy collegiate athletics,” Emmert said.
“Under [the pay-to-play] model, why wouldn’t you have a 35-year-old quarterback? Brett Favre is available. Brett Favre would probably be pretty good at some schools. A little slow, but a pretty good college quarterback.”