NCAA President Discusses Progress in College Sports

By October 10, 2018President

NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert stressed the importance of mindfulness in his talk, “College Sports: A Pathway to Opportunity” on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, in Jobe Hall.

College sports through the NCAA prioritize fairness, academics, and safety while combatting commercialism, said NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert during his talk, “College Sports: A Pathway to Opportunity,” at Delta State University’s Fall 2018 Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series Tuesday night, Oct. 9, in Jobe Hall.

The NCAA stresses the importance of rules, takes care of student-athletes physically and emotionally, and “is devoted to the human development business of higher education,” he explained, citing historical examples of the formation of college sports and of the NCAA. Emmert also acknowledged that work remained to be done on those fronts.

“It’s a very, very impressive place,” said Emmert about Delta State.

The NCAA dates to 1906. The initial pool of 65 participating schools now totals approximately 1,100 colleges and universities, with almost 20,000 teams and approaching 500,000 student-athletes, pointed out Emmert, who joined the NCAA in 2010 after serving as president of University of Washington, one of his alma maters.

He called college sports a “uniquely American phenomenon” and stated that graduation rates for student-athletes in NCAA-participating schools is higher than for non-athletes across the board at those institutions. Student-athletes, he added, are more likely after their higher education experience than non-athletes to become leaders, attain financial success, and live healthier.

During a question-and-answer period, Emmert, who earlier in his career held leadership roles at several other universities, said that Division II schools like Delta State strike a good balance between academics and competition—because these student-athletes “major in more than eligibility.”

Emmert answered questions from Delta State students, faculty, and administrators after his lecture, with President LaForge moderating.

Other questions he answered covered topics such as transgender student-athletes, coaching contact time versus voluntary time practicing, trends in college athletics, and protecting student-athletes, especially females, from predators.

Emmert, the fifth president of the NCAA, also met with with coaches, student-athletes, professors, and others during his daylong Delta State appearance.

Delta State President William N. LaForge introduced Emmert at the Colloquia and presented him with a Colloquia medallion. LaForge serves on the NCAA Division II Presidents Council.

LaForge established the Colloquia Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series in 2013 upon his inauguration. The first speaker was former Mississippi Gov. William Winter. Others include former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, former U.S. Comptroller General Charles Bowsher, and current UPS CEO and chairman of the board, David Abney, a Delta State alumnus.

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