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January 31, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Mark Emmert

Buzzmaster
  (4:00 PM)

President Emmert is here!

Kevin (Atlanta)

What do you think the NCAA's role is in a situation like the one that's happened at Penn State? There haven't been any NCAA rules broken, but that is a pretty horrible situation going on. How closely have you had the NCAA checking in on this?

Mark Emmert
  (4:03 PM)

First of all, of course we don't do criminal investigations. But we have been working closely with Penn State to make sure that we make sure we understand what's really transpired there. Shortly after the release of the grand jury report, I wrote PSU to ask them about institutional control and ethical behavior. When we get those responses, we'll know if any rules have been broken of if we need to open a formal investigation.

Carey (Boston)

The BCS presidents run the football national championship, but they do it with the blessing of the NCAA, correct? So, how much influence does the NCAA have in suggesting improvements to the football postseason? You've recently said you'd support a playoff type format. Is there anything you can do to help that along?

Mark Emmert
  (4:04 PM)

Those decisions about the BCS are entirely made by the presidents of the conferences in the BCS. There is some confusion about the BCS. It is a series of contractural commitments between the conferences and the bowls. The NCAA doesn't have a role in that at all. I have been in discussion with them to say that we're there to help them implement any type of format. But ultimately, it's their decision.

Paul (Chicago)

Fans buy college athletes' jerseys, which earn their schools money and the high performance of athletes helps with the TV contracts. Yet, they don't see any of that money. What's the NCAA's position behind not allowing the athletes to have some of that money?

Mark Emmert
  (4:06 PM)

I and all of the leadership of the NCAA are adamently opposed to turning student athletes into professionals or turning them into employees. One of the fundamentals are our students are students who happen to be athletes. The revenue that comes into universities are used to support other programs. The opportunities provided to athletes are paid with that revenue. We are looking to provide more scholarship for athletes. There is an impression that universities are making a lot of money off of athletics, but that's not true. Football makes a lot of money at some schools, but it also pays for the other programs. Last year, 17 of the 1100 members of the NCAA had positive cash flow.

Steven (Dallas)

In your opinion, what's the most important or pressing issue in regards to the NCAA, its constituents and college sports right now?

Mark Emmert
  (4:08 PM)

The biggest issue for me is to stay focused on our student athletes. The broad world, the media, the fan base focuses on the elite programs and athletes. But we have 5,500 young men playing D-I basketball, of those 5,500 we have 50 that will go to the NBA. I'm more focused on the rest of the 5,500. I want them to take advantage of their opportunities while they're in college. The second set of issues is that we can maintain integrity in the field of play and those that break those rules are held accountable for it.

Sam (Miami)

The Super Bowl is in Indianapolis this week, the home of the NCAA. As president of the NCAA, are you able to cut lines when going out so you can enjoy some of the festivities and bask in the Super Bowl hype?

Mark Emmert
  (4:09 PM)

It's certainly great to have such a wonderful event in Indy. It's also a pleasure to have a big time event that I don't have to worry about. I haven't had a chance to enjoy the events yet, so I haven't cut line. But if I have a chance, I'll pull rank!

Gary (San Diego)

President Emmert, how do you view the criticism of the NCAA about penalties and punishments. From the outside, it appears that similar infractions receive varied punishments. Is this something you hope to fix? are you aware of the criticism?

Mark Emmert
  (4:11 PM)

Yeah, I'm very aware. When I was a university president, I had some of the same ones myself. We're working hard. 1) To make sure people understand our rational 2) we have a penalty structure we're working on changing right now. Each situation is different. They all have their own unique circumstances. We have to work on having continuity. You'll see those changes playing out in the next school year.

Greg (Orlando)

What if anything, can be done from the NCAA's perspective regarding conference realignment? Can it be slowed or stopped?

Mark Emmert
  (4:13 PM)

Well, first of all, the decisions about what a conference the university will belong to reside with that university. It's not the NCAA's role to tell the university where to go. It's also the conference to decide its membership. On the other hand, I certainly want to find a way which we can find a way to make those decisions made slowly and with information and how those decisions impact the students. We need to make sure these decisions are made with those thoughts in mind and in a forthright manner. This past year was not a great moment for intercollegiate athletics when we had so much movement going on with panic. I think we're in a much calmer time now.

David (NYC)

What kind of working relationship does the NCAA have with the professional sports leagues, like MLB, NBA, NFL? You both have a mutual interest, I would think. For instance, do you feel any sort of obligation to ammending the age limit rule in basketball? I would think something like that would make both the NBA and college game better.

Mark Emmert
  (4:15 PM)

Great question. We have positive and constructive relationship with all of the sports leagues. We meet regularly about our shared interests. There is a lot of confusion about the rules like the age limits for entering professional sport. Many think those are NCAA rules, they're not. They're covered by the pro leagues and the players association. The one and done rule in the NBA, that rule exists between the NBA and NBPA. We have the ability to express our opinions on it. I think we're going to see some good movement on that in the future, those and other rules like agents and health concerns like concussions.

James (Tampa)

Thank you for taking the time out to chat with us. Question: What do you think of expansion as a whole and the conferences/ schools not playing nice with each other(Esp the Big 12 and WVU) suing the BE and the Big 12 Commish calling out the BE?

Mark Emmert
  (4:17 PM)

Some movement is natural and makes some sense. That's fine. It sounds like this issue is one that I worry about too. If it's handled improperly, it eroads what works. It's not good to have people snipping each other. It makes it seem like collegiate athletics is more about TV contracts than the games on the field. We have to make sure we keep the eye on the ball. Pardon the pun.

Arno Akobyan (Los Angeles, CA)

President Emmert, while I understand that there may be factors in consideration that I'm not aware of-- but something as measly as an extra $2,000 dollars for NCAA Athletes to help cover living expenses is not too much to ask. Why is the NCAA dragging it's feet on this issue? Furthermore-- why isn't the NCAA doing a better job of keeping agents off campus, eliminating the potential for temptation that ultimately gets these kids into trouble. Thank you for all your hard work. GO BEARS! (UC-Berkeley, '09)

Mark Emmert
  (4:18 PM)

I'm supportive of that proposal as well. I've been championing it. The delay has been implementing it with Title IX and the partial scholarships in some sports. How to make sure it's put in place fairly and effectively. That discussion will take place at the next board meeting and I hope the board passes and implements that policy.

Dylon (Washington)

In your candid opinion, do you feel that the BCS has been good or bad for college football?

Mark Emmert
  (4:20 PM)

I have no doubt that it's been good. Before the BCS, there were just the bowl games. There was no chance for the No. 1 and 2 teams to play. We can debate whether the right 1 and 2 were in the game, but it's created a very good showcase for college football. It's had its limitations and those will be addressed, but it's better than where we were 20 years ago.

Ben ( Chicago)

In my opinion, the general opinion of the NCAA is pretty low. How do you hope to restore it? How do you feel it is?

Mark Emmert
  (4:22 PM)

It's highly mixed. College sports have never been more popular. The graduation rate of athletes is higher than the average rates. We have people showing up to watch all games at Divisions 1, 2, 3. We have people enthusiastic about college sports. The concern is with these issues we've talked about today. Questions about behavior of conferences, infractions they're all places of concern. We're trying to address them. You hear often that the NCAA is all about money, but that's untrue. 96% of the money coming in goes right back out to the members. College athletics this year will put out 2 billion dollars in scholarships out to students, that's more than the federal government.

Oakley (Largo,FL)

Do you think that, due to the increasing number of rules infractions, that the NCAA should adopt tougher punishments for these rule-breakers?

Mark Emmert
  (4:24 PM)

I Think we need to do several things, all of which we're in the midst of doing now and will have done by our August meeting. First, we have to simplify the rules. Some of them include elements things that are silly. We have to make sure we have penalties that focus on the people that are really responsible. Third, when we have a case that we have to investigate, we do it quickly, effectively and tell people why we did what we did. I think that will help.

Carl (Denver)

how do you prevent things like what happened at Miami and with other agent issues?

Mark Emmert
  (4:27 PM)

The issue of what we call third party actors, agents, runners all of those folks is the most difficult to manage. There are lots of people that see student athletes are those not to support but to take advantage of. They're pretty creative in getting into the lives of young people. It's really hard for us or anyone else to manage that. The way we work on it is we have to provide as much education to students as we can. We have to provide as much collaboration with the pro leagues. They liscense the agents. When we find the people breaking the rules, we deal with it swiftly and appropriately. There will always be folks breaking the rules, those are the ones we want to crack down on.

Matt (Dunn, NC)

When can we expect the rulings for UNC? Seems like this has been going on much longer than it should. It only took months to punish Ohio State.

Mark Emmert
  (4:29 PM)

Cases always take longer than everyone would like. The NCAA is not a governmental entity. We don't have subpena power. We have to ask people to give us information. We have to develop corroborating information. We work more like investigative reporters than what you see on CSI: Miami. I won't speak to the specifics of a case, but we are working on that UNC case as quickly as we can. We'll settle it as fast as the investigative process allows.

Mark Emmert
  (4:30 PM)

I think this is a great forum and great questions. I like interacting with the fans this way. I was glad to do it.

Buzzmaster
  (4:30 PM)

Thank you President Emmert for chatting with us today!