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USA Today digs into Mark Emmert’s past; results are not good

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While the end result of the Miami-NCAA case remains to be seen, there’s no arguing that college athletics’ governing body has screwed up royally investigating the Hurricanes. Some — many? — would also argue that Mark Emmert‘s unprecedented action against Penn State following the Freeh Report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal was uncalled for, making the past year memorable for the NCAA for all the wrong reasons.

Well, the hits keep coming.

In an equally fascinating and unsettling piece by USA Today‘s Brent Schrotenboer, Emmert’s previous stops at Montana State, UConn, LSU and Washington  are placed squarely under a microscope to reveal a trend of scandals that make you wonder how Emmert was awarded his job as NCAA president to begin with.

As chancellor at UConn, Emmert oversaw a $1 billion construction project that resulted in a loss of over $100 million due to mismanagement. “Memos from 1998-99 showed that Emmert and two other top UConn officials knew about the construction project’s big problems then, but failed to disclose them to the school’s board of trustees or the state legislature,” Schrotenboer writes.

By the time the problems were discovered in 2005, Emmert had moved on to become chancellor of LSU and later denied withholding information.

“I never saw an audit issue that was a problem at all, and we certainly wouldn’t have kept it from people,” he told the USA Today.

While at LSU, Emmert led an investigation into allegations of academic fraud that emerged in the football program under former coach Nick Saban. While the conclusions of that investigation acknowledged  five minor, isolated violations, court documents obtained by the USA Today show a deposition given in 2004 after Emmert’s departure for Washington said “problems were far more systemic than the school admitted…”

(Similarly, in 1995, the NCAA ruled that Montana State was guilty of a lack of institutional control for academic fraud in men’s basketball while Emmert was a member of the university’s senior management team along with the NCAA’s current COO, Jim Isch. But by that point, Emmert had left for UConn.)

Emmert continued to make enemies at UW. The USA Today writes Emmert “irked some faculty with two bold moves. He pushed to use taxpayer money to fund a football stadium renovation and helped make football coach Steve Sarkisian the highest-paid state employee at about $2 million.”

Emmert stood by the decision, claiming athletics are the “window into the institution”.

While that’s true, Emmert was also pulling in a yearly salary of $762,000 as the university’s president, making him the highest-paid public university president in the nation at the time. That is, until he became president of the NCAA in 2010.

Since then, Emmert and the NCAA have come under fire numerous times for their handling of specific infraction cases, including the debacle with Miami. That’s led to calls for Emmert’s resignation, but he asserted to the USA Today that “the president of the NCAA doesn’t get involved in infractions cases.”

Emmert may have a hard time explaining that one to Penn State.

But the USA Today‘s piece has to make you wonder if Emmert ever had to explain any of his past screw-ups to the NCAA. More importantly, did the NCAA ever ask? Or know? If there’s one thing the Cadwalader external report on the Miami investigation showed, it’s that no one in the NCAA seems to talk to anybody or corroborate anything. At least, that’s the impression it gives off.

And apparently it starts at the top.

NCAA member schools should be appalled and no vote of confidence from the executive committee should matter anymore when it comes to Emmert’s job security.

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24 Responses to “USA Today digs into Mark Emmert’s past; results are not good”
  1. akhhorus says: Apr 2, 2013 8:36 PM

    I have no doubt that this comment will be deleted, but: there’s no real dirt here tied to Emmert. There’s a lot of “he was in a position of authority when something allegedly bad happened” but thats not what this blog post is trying to claim it to be.

  2. thekatman says: Apr 2, 2013 8:40 PM

    Once a crook, always a crook.

  3. hopalongcrc1 says: Apr 2, 2013 8:56 PM

    Wow, excellent blogging and great reporting by USA Today.

    The NCAA is beyond any accountability to anyone and the degree of corruption is unbelievable. Time to start the executive search. Although the NCAA history was worse before Emmert arrived, with the Penn State debacle, the USC Reggie Bush unfair abuse of administrative discretion, the lack of backbone with foresight for a college football playoff, and lastly the disastrous (which I believe to be common place, business as usual, NCAA investigative policy) Miami case, it is time to hire someone with a better track record and commitment.
    With the imminent O’Bannon decision soon to impact the way schools have been taking advantage of athletes, the NCAA needs a leader
    with MBA and sports background. Start the process now. There is way too much money and fairness at stake.

  4. rolltide510 says: Apr 2, 2013 9:08 PM

    So even if Emmert presided over some mistakes in previous jobs (and akhhorus correctly frames this above), so? Does that mean these schools didn’t commit the violations the NCAA says they did?

  5. alligatorsnapper says: Apr 2, 2013 9:13 PM

    These are sad revelations. We should have thought, we should have known, the NCAA would not change, and would continue some bad decisions and policies since it has just about from its beginning. Maybe Emmert knew, maybe he did not, but it is apparently time for a change.

    If we need someone at the helm that knows economics, business, and administration, as well as sports, I hesitate to say, but it may require an attorney. I know several really good ones with that kind of background and education but none would get close to that job and are already extremely successful in their own businesses.

    One thing is for certain, as the patriarch in the southernpatriots family has advocated for years, the NCAA needs to scrap or greatly trim its Los Angeles phone book with yellow page book of regulations, about 1200 pages. It would be a good idea to get a select committee working on that now to have it ready in time for the playoff format, which is finally coming.

  6. ironman721 says: Apr 2, 2013 10:08 PM

    Keep digging. Where there is smoke there is 🔥! The guy is shady!

  7. mancave001 says: Apr 2, 2013 10:21 PM

    “Does that mean these schools didn’t commit the violations the NCAA says they did?”

    –Given that process and leadership are corrupt, I believe nothing the NCAA says. Nothing. They are a fraud, and so is Emmert.

  8. necr0philia says: Apr 2, 2013 11:00 PM

    Hopefully he losses everything and lives under a bridge with me and my homeless homies. We will kick his a$$ every night and give golden showers to him when we have had one too many to drink!!

  9. thejjtrain says: Apr 2, 2013 11:34 PM

    The Peter Principle strikes again

  10. barnesaintnoble says: Apr 2, 2013 11:56 PM

    This guy is a scumbag. He’s the guy that finds the hole in the ship, hops on the emergency raft by himself and leaves before anyone knows somethings wrong. In positions of leadership and politics, when stuff gets f*cked up under your watch, it’s on you – even if you have nothing to do with it. Sure, some can handle it very well and weather the storm, but that’s rare. Even if this guy worked at Chase in their Investment Banking division, losing $100 million dollars would probably ruin his career. Yet he is the supposed to represent “a pillar of credibility” in college athletics. Haha, I feel bad for the Penn State recruit who used a counterfeit $10 bill at McDonalds and has the Secret Service on his tail. He lost his scholarship (to a school at which he would have never gone to a bowl game because of Mr. Emmert) and will likely have a felony on his record for the rest of his life. And Emmert “loses” $100 Million and now he has a cushy job raking in more cash at the expense of unpaid college athletes. At the NCAA Regional in DC I saw a picture of him and Obama kicking back in a luxury box, grins galore. He probably thanked Mr. Obama for pushing for the playoff, it’s what the NCAA wanted all along. Greed wins, ethics and morals go home.

  11. manchestermiracle says: Apr 3, 2013 12:00 AM

    The LAPD botched the Simpson murder investigation, but we all know what really happened.

    The problem with the NCAA is that in allowing bias, incompetence, and the desire for witch-hunts color their investigations many schools that may have been guilty of only minor infractions got hammered, while other schools guilty of major misdeeds may have avoided any punishment.

    Emmert’s decades-long trail of shadowy dealings looks like it’s catching up with him. Chances are there are more of the NCAA’s questionable methods to yet see the light of day.

  12. thraiderskin says: Apr 3, 2013 12:36 AM

    People are correct that these individual, on their own, situations mean nothing towards the frame work of guilt. However, it is the consistant and numerous signs of corruption wherever he was present that makes this bad. It shows this is a man who makes his own rules, like in the PSU punishment. If there is any case of deep seeded, consistent, systematic fraud in college athletics, it is with Emmert and anyone he brought in(to the NCAA). By claiming that he was merely a leader at these institutions during these violations, thus absolving him of fault, completely undermines any argument he makes about institutional control at any school, past present or future…

  13. tommy57 says: Apr 3, 2013 1:05 AM

    Similar to the NATO military alliance, the NCAA needs direction and an agreement on its role and level of authority. I agree with those who call for re-tooling.

    As for Dr Emmert’s alleged mistakes – he was in a leadership position, and leaders are chosen to lead. If he didn’t know, he should have known; thus, he was either Complicit or incompetent. Either way, he’s risen to his level of incompetency, as jtrain wrote.

  14. fnc111 says: Apr 3, 2013 6:09 AM

    Would love to watch a guy like this get r@ped on video.

  15. mhalt99 says: Apr 3, 2013 7:47 AM

    ok, so he is a scumbag like paul dee…..but this time it is a problem for miami because he hasn’t been on their payroll?

    can’t shahala just throw him a few hookers like The U usually does?

  16. smokingto says: Apr 3, 2013 8:05 AM

    Throw him in a cell with Sandusky, and throw away the key!

  17. dhlions says: Apr 3, 2013 10:26 AM

    If in the next 2 – 3 years the NCAA somehow survives…

    -Emmert’s checkered past
    -The State of PA’s lawsuit(s)(?)
    -U of M and Shalala’s ties to Washington DC

    …we’ll know it is the cockroach of the bureaucratic world.

  18. olskool711 says: Apr 3, 2013 11:56 AM


    E. Gordon Gee

    Jim Delaney


    Thomas Jefferson was right. We get the government we deserve.

  19. rolltide510 says: Apr 3, 2013 1:42 PM

    I guess I should look into who was running the NCAA when Logan Young was paying players at Alabama, and see what his track record was at other jobs. I might be able to explain it all away.

  20. mogogo1 says: Apr 3, 2013 1:50 PM

    “Does that mean these schools didn’t commit the violations the NCAA says they did?”

    A band of dirty cops are the chief witnesses against some bad guy. If that comes out at trial, no jury on earth will convict the guy. It doesn’t mean the guy is innocent, it just means the accusers are so untrustworthy nobody can believe them. Same story here.

    If they want to nail Miami, my suggestion would be an independent panel to collect evidence and investigate. Because I don’t believe anything the NCAA says. Their motives were questionable to begin with and now they’re desperate to save face. You can’t trust them.

  21. johnnycomelately2 says: Apr 3, 2013 4:40 PM

    so akhhorus – your suppossition then it is just pure coincidence that EVERYWHERE that Emmerts has been a trail of screwups and coverups seems to follow him but he has zero to do with it? Gimme a break. In the real world if a CEO takes over 5 different companies and they all get hit for bankruptcy, SEC violations etc then there is something wrong with the CEO…

  22. marcinhouston says: Apr 4, 2013 2:20 AM

    How dare someone who let a construction project go 10% over budget criticize a university that aided and abetted a serial pedophile? No large university in the USA goes a few years without some minor controversy, but these are all minor controversies, and what happened at Penn State and Miami are not minor.

  23. hatesycophants says: Apr 6, 2013 9:59 PM

    So, basically you and the most ridiculous “news” paper in the country did a hatchet job on a guy because he punished JoePed and PSU for being lowlife scum? Got it!

  24. Faith says: Nov 10, 2014 10:42 AM

    Reblogged this on Don't Forget the Cream and commented:
    For my “Food for Thought” section….

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