It sounds almost too good to be true. NCAA President Mark Emmert is stepping down by June 30, 2023, at the very latest?
Yippeeee!!! Emperor Emmert has long had no clothes in the figurative sense. Now he'll have no job, too. College athletics might survive in spite of itself after all.
And this is one time when, regardless of who ultimately replaces him, there's almost certainly nowhere to go but up. Will Smith showed better judgement at the Oscars than Emmert has shown at any time over the past 12 years in leading college athletics' governing body into a bottomless pit of embarrassment and wrongheadedness.
Where to start with Emmert's wrongs is next to impossible. The Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal at Penn State, where Emmert overstepped his boundaries despite the horrific nature of Sandusky's actions and Penn State's apparent actions in attempting to cover it up is a good place to start.
Its unwillingness to deal with the Name, Image and Likeness issue until the Supreme Court stepped in is another. So, too, its weakness in finding a fair and balanced solution to the transfer portal instead of the revolving door it has become.
Want more? How about all those schools which were caught by FBI wiretaps providing illegal payments and benefits to recruits? That all came to light more than four years ago. It involved Kansas — which just cut down the nets as NCAA champs — Arizona (which, like KU, was a No. 1 seed in the March Madness just past) and LSU, which finally fired Bayou Bengals coach and former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Will Wade a few weeks ago, yet is yet to be disciplined by the NCAA.
Oh, and there's that academic scandal at North Carolina that went nowhere after much posturing by Emmert, who initially described Kenneth Weinstein's report concerning the details of the scandal: "Deeply troubling" and "absolutely disturbing."
UNC's penalty for such troubling and disturbing behavior?
Zero. Zilch. Absolutely nothing.
Yet if UNC's legal eagles found legitimate loopholes through which to wiggle free, the FBI issue should have been easy, simple and quick. Numerous coaches were caught on tape. Money was discussed. Deals were made.
Yet here we are, more than four years later, with Kansas holding its fourth NCAA trophy, former Arizona coach Sean Miller recently hired at Xavier and Auburn coach Bruce Pearl the toast of the Loveliest Village on the Plains despite his former assistant Chuck Person losing his job over FBI evidence.
Talk about deeply troubling and disturbing behavior from the top of the NCAA down.
In typical Emmert fashion, he tried to put the best face on his terrible tenure, proving yet again that he remains as clueless about his job on the way out as he did on the way in.
"Throughout my tenure I've emphasized the need to focus on the experience and priorities of student-athletes," Emmert said in a statement. "I am extremely proud of the work of the Association over the last 12 years and especially pleased with the hard work and dedication of the national office staff here in Indianapolis."
To understand how badly this move needed to be made, merely consider Tuesday evening's release by the NCAA. It said Emmert and the NCAA board of governors reached a mutual agreement to have him step aside.
In other words, you can announce your own retirement or we'll announce your dismissal. Take your pick.
Was he winless during his 12 years running the show? Not exactly. The organization handled the coronavirus pandemic about as well as it could be handled, rightly shutting down all sports in the spring of 2020, then overseeing the rewarding of extra years of eligibility for those players denied normal senior seasons and playoff opportunities due to the pandemic.
But a Yahoo! Sports story on Tuesday said that only 10 percent of conference commissioners still had faith in Emmert when his $3 million-a-year contract was extended last year through 2025.
"Stunning," one athletic director told Yahoo. "And we wonder why there's no credibility in college athletics."
There's also his bumbling and stumbling his way through the latest NCAA tournament TV contract with CBS and Turner sports that has caused much grumbling among college administrators.
Again, according to Yahoo, the deal is expected to cost the NCAA close to $3.5 billion before it ends in 2032.
No wonder NCAA board of governors chair John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown, said in the release: "With the significant transitions underway within college sports, the timing of this decision provides the Association with consistent leadership during the coming months plus the opportunity to consider what will be the future role of the president. It also allows for the selection and recruitment of the next president without disruption."
Here's one thought on who that president should be. And he just retired.
Why not former Villanova coach Jay Wright? He's bright, charming, hugely successful without a hint of scandal and with two NCAA championship rings over the past six seasons.
"The culture of Villanova basketball is the best in the country," said ESPN's Seth Greenberg a few days ago. "(Wright) ran a model program."
Greenberg later added, "You talk to other coaches about the people they'd most want to emulate and be like, it's Jay Wright."
No one would ever want to emulate Emmert, whose next positive move — other than stepping down — will be his first. But Wright could be the right hire at the right time for an embattled NCAA that's made all the wrong moves over the past 12 years.
Contact Mark Wiedmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.