Mark Emmert is out – and a Black, Latina or Asian woman needs to take his place at NCAA

Photo Credit: Eric Gay/AP

Often times in sports – as well as in society – ineptitude is often rewarded because the results of said ineptitude only benefit a select few that it was meant to benefit. 

For many years, Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, was the textbook definition of ineptitude. His face likely shows up alongside the dictionary definition of the word. From a culture that rewarded the haves over the have notes to clinging to this outdated notion that college athletics are merely “amateur” when the money going to it is anything but, Emmert is one of those 10,000 men that was sent to guard the past. 

Except one can only guard the past for so long before the future eventually wins out in the end. 

Last week it was announced that Emmert would be stepping down from his post as the president of the NCAA. His final day will be in 2023 after assuming the job in 2010 – meaning his tenure will span 13 years. 

And what a tumultuous 13 years it was. Between the realignment of conferences that began not too long after he took the job to the Ed O’Bannon case to scandals involving Penn State, North Carolina, Louisville, Michigan State and Baylor among others, Indianapolis has seen more than its fair share of upheaval during the Emmert era. 

Arguably, no recent event revealed how incompetent the NCAA is than what Sedona Prince of Oregon revealed in the run-up to the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament – held in a central Texas bubble on account of the pandemic. 

Prince revealed the clear and obvious lack of preparation and care given to the women’s tournament in Texas. Compare that with how the men were treated in its tourney bubble in the Indianapolis area and it was another sign of how men’s sports were treated as a main attraction while the women were looked at as nothing more than a sideshow. 

That may have been something that the cavemen at the NCAA may have been able to get away with in the 1980s when Title IX was looked at as the “Lesbians’ Bill of Rights.” It is not something one can get away with in 2021 or 2022 where an increasing amount of respect is given to women’s sports. 

The 2022 NCAA women’s tournament was the first time in history that it officially had the iconic March Madness brand attached to it. That would not have happened without Prince exposing the NCAA as an emperor without any clothes by what she posted to her TikTok last March. 

Another loss the NCAA took in 2021 was the Supreme Court ruling that ushered in the era of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). At long last, athletes themselves could get a piece of the financial pie Indianapolis was hoarding from them for so many years.

As the old saying goes, out with the old and in with the new. Emmert’s ouster is a classic case of good riddance to bad rubbish and it is time for someone with fresh ideas to serve in his stead. 

It is time for a woman to lead the NCAA. Any woman will do, but preferably a Black, Latina or Asian woman who will prioritize women’s sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball and softball. One of the top candidates that has been speculated for the job is Condoleeza Rice. Say what one wants about her politics and being part of the presidential administration of the second George Bush – she is still a Black woman. 

For too long, the NCAA has held itself back by consistently living in the past – and it is why the long-term future of said NCAA has been a hot topic of conversation among many a sports pundit. The NCAA needs the conferences, teams and players. They do not need the NCAA and with NIL now a thing, it is every bit a business for the players as it is the teams, schools, conferences and league itself. 

Add in the history of sexism within the NCAA and it once again underscores why it is time for a woman to lead that entity. 

The NCAA needs someone who understands modern college athletics and is willing to embrace the ideas of NIL and the transfer portal, not shun away from them. It also needs someone who is willing to culturally clean up the NCAA from its sexist past and unequal history. 

Imagine the NCAA as a dirty downstairs bedroom that is such because the men who occupy said room sit on their couch all day eating chips, drinking beer and watching television with posters of women in bikinis lining its walls. It sorely needs a woman’s touch and that touch will allow it to become one with the present and future of college athletics instead of a tired and out of date relic of the past.