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Longtime NCAA executive Isch set to retire

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The NCAA's massive overhaul is hitting the organization's Indianapolis headquarters.

On Tuesday, chief operating officer Jim Isch announced he would retire early next year, a move that is prompting NCAA President Mark Emmert to reorganize his top staff. He will create a new executive vice president position to oversee regulatory matters and will delegate most of Isch's other responsibilities to others already working at college sports' largest governing body. Those changes will take effect Oct. 1.

Isch, who joined the NCAA in 1998, will continue to assist Emmert in an advisory capacity until he leaves at a yet to be determined date.

"Jim has devoted his career to serving young people, and he has distinguished himself as a leader at the campus level and nationally as well," Emmert said in a statement. "Whether he is working with our national office staff, student-athletes or college presidents, his ability to connect with others is exemplary. We all will miss his dedication, wit and personality, and I personally wish him and his family the best for the future. "

Isch was appointed interim NCAA president following the death of Myles Brand in September 2009, a position he held until Emmert took over in the fall of 2010. Isch then became one of Emmert's closest confidantes.

During his tenure, Isch helped lead NCAA efforts for strategic planning and fiscal responsibility. He also was instrumental in negotiating a $10.8 billion, 14-year television contract for the men's NCAA basketball tournament.

"Although sometimes the challenges were great, it is rewarding to see the positive changes in college sports from academics to health and safety, and all the major improvements to how we support student-athletes across all three divisions," Isch said. "Although retirement will allow me to spend more time with my family, particularly my grandchildren, I will definitely miss working with the NCAA staff and our membership."

Emmert says Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and NCAA executive vice president Mark Lewis will guide an outside firm in a national search to fill the new executive vice president position.

The move comes at a time that the NCAA is in transition. Earlier this month, university leaders approved a measure to give the five richest conferences more autonomy over some rules and a U.S. District Court ruled that football and men's basketball players could have up to $5,000 per year of eligibility deposited into a trust fund that they could collect after they finish school. The NCAA is appealing that ruling.

Other changes at headquarters include giving executive vice president of education Bernard Franklin a bigger role working with Indianapolis civic organizations while serving as the primary liaison with new university presidents and promotions for Kathleen McNeely, who will serve as senior vice president of administration and chief financial officer; Cari Klecka, the new chief of staff; and Bob Williams, the new senior vice president of communications.

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