Emmert Defends NCAA Policy on Amateurism


August 31, 2011

It’s been a controversial few months for the NCAA and its president Mark Emmert, with debate over whether to compensate athletes and a major scandal at the University of Miami over illegal benefits. Yesterday he sat down with Morning Edition’s David Greene to discuss the issues at hand.

Emmert stuck to his recent script on amateurism — adjusted slightly since FRONTLINE’s Lowell Bergman interviewed him in February — supporting the possibility of scholarship reform and increasing aid but denying any other types of compensation. “I am adamantly opposed to the notion of paying student athletes to play their games,” he said. “That converts them to employees. This is entirely about students playing the games.”

As for the possibility of giving University of Miami the “death penalty” — shutting down its football program for a period of time — in response to allegations from a former booster that he got money, prostitutes, expensive trips and even an abortion for football and basketball players, Emmert was quick to point out that such a punishment should be used carefully: “You would want to use it incredibly selectively because it has an impact not just on those who engaged in the inappropriate behavior, but it also has an impact on the whole school,” Emmert told Green. “It has an impact on their conference colleagues. It has an impact on future student athletes who might be at that school.”

According to Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg, it also has an impact on finances: The death penalty would strip much-needed money away from the ACC and the Bowl Championship Series, major sources of television revenue for the NCAA.

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