Though there are many folks in Indianapolis sports and legal circles who would like to see Jack Swarbrick be a candidate to follow the late Myles Brand as NCAA president, the man himself has very decidedly (and politically correctly) thrown his own hat far outside the ring of debate.
There’s a lot to like about Swarbrick. Not only is he a fine legal mind, an astute businessman and a sports fan, he’s also imminently accessible and surprisingly straightforward. This is a guy who answers his own phone—and answers every question. I wish I could say the same about the folks at my own college alma matter.
There's also this: Swarbrick is an Indiana native, former Indiana Sports Corp. chairman and Indianapolis attorney. He knows the value of maximizing the NCAA's economic impact on the Circle City. There's no shortage of local folks that would back him for the job. Swarbrick has been involved in almost every major sports initiative this city has known over the last two decades, including being a key member of the delegation that landed the 2012 Super Bowl.
Did I mention too, that Swarbrick knows when to defer. That’s what he did late last week when I asked him if he is a candidate to become the next NCAA president. It’s not a ridiculous question. Not only is Swarbrick nationally respected, but he was a finalist for the job when Brand was hired in 2003.
“I think [NCAA leaders] have made it quite clear they want the leader to come from the university presidents’ ranks,” Swarbrick said.
Notice, Swarbrick didn’t say he isn’t interested in the job. Still, he makes a good case for a university president to be the next NCAA honcho.
“They understand the issues from a campus-wide perspective, and they have the credibility and cache with other presidents that will help move the NCAA’s agenda along,” Swarbrick said.
Candidates to succeed Brand include; University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, University of Georgia President Michael Adams, Penn State University President Graham Spanier, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive along with NCAA Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin.
The next NCAA president faces one of the most challenging times in the association’s history, Swarbrick said.
In addition to college sports spending issues, Swarbrick said the new president—the fifth in the NCAA’s history—must grapple with compliance, ethics and enforcement issues; as well as multi-media agreements including television, radio and Web deals.
“This is one of the least stable times the NCAA has faced and the next president will have to find the glue that holds all this together,” Swarbrick said. “There’s just so much change right now.”