With Mark Emmert exit it’s time to dissolve the NCAA

NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.Ncaahall 311477 Jpg
NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.Ncaahall 311477 Jpg /

There was a time, now more than a century ago when college sports were played without an NCAA. Widespread rule violations and national concern over player safety in football indicated a centralized body was needed. In December of 1908, after some serious imploring by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States was formed. The new organization’s members included 62 schools and universities.

Today’s NCAA replaced the IAAUS in 1910. According to the NCAA website, the purpose of the oversight body was,

"to regulate the rules of college sport and protect young athletes"

The future breadth of the task could not have been conceivable to the organization’s founders. With explosive growth of athletic programs nationally since the IAAUS began, the NCAA was never going to be able to keep up. Before broadcast media made college football and men’s basketball immensely valuable entertainment products, the NCAA had a chance to do some things well.

For a long while, the gigantic task of rules-making and frequent rules-amending was done as well as possible, given the organization’s structural obstacles.  The NCAA also deserves a high grade for making March Madness one of sports’ greatest annual events.

Down in the weeds, usually beyond the attention of most fans, the NCAA must have done well dealing with all kinds of minutiae.

Then there are failures. The big three are enforcement, free agency and NIL. A generous D-minus can be given for enforcement. Free agency and NIL are such fails, if the NCAA was a student, there would be no opportunity to repeat the class.

With Mark Emmert announcing his retirement, a massive amount of blame will fall on him. However much blame he deserves, it will be a mistake to scapegoat all NCAA failures by assigning them to one person.

What is next for the NCAA?

What will follow for the NCAA after Emmert’s exit? The first step will be to find a replacement, even though that fix will repair nothing. It has become rather clear, that short of a massive overhaul and restructure, the NCAA should be abolished.

It will, of course, have to be replaced, but the replacement organizations do not have to be either as big or as broad as the NCAA. Money has long been driving an eventual split of the FBS into a Super League for college football. That slow-moving train may now speed up. What will follow is anyone’s guess.

Saban's Tide first-rounders do well in NFL. dark. Next

The best thing the NCAA could do is put someone in charge who understands and accepts that the territorial imperatives of the NCAA should be well down the task list of priorities. Will the NCAA be so bold as to face that reality? Nothing in its history indicates that it will.