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NCAA President Says Conference Reshuffling ‘Embarrassed’ Many in College Sports

Grapevine, Tex.—NCAA President Mark Emmert delivered a stern lecture Monday afternoon to athletic directors from the country’s biggest college sports programs, taking them to task for the tumult of recent conference realignment and urging them to take part in the association’s current efforts to overhaul some of its policies.

“People today have greater doubt, greater concern about what we stand for and why we do what we do,” Emmert said to a packed room of athletic directors and faculty athletics representatives, who have all gathered here for their annual meetings. “And that is a huge problem for us.”

“The specter of the past couple weeks of conference realignment has not been a healthy thing,” said Emmert, speaking forcefully and without notes. The prevailing belief among the public and the press, he said, is that college sports stands only for money. But he scolded the ADs for allowing talk and speculation around realignment to center solely on financial matters.

“The world’s convinced that’s all we care about…that all this is about money,” he said. “I didn’t read many of us stepping up and saying that this will work really well for student-athletes because we’ll do X, we’ll do Y, it will create more resources, it will help us stabilize our programs.”

“It was all about the deal,” he said.

After outlining for the athletic directors some of the major policy changes the Division I Board of Directors is likely to consider at its meeting next month, Emmert said he believed it was a perfect time to make change.

“The confusion and disruption of the conference realignment adds to, doesn’t detract from, our ability to get these things done,” he said. “Because, candidly, I think we were all embarrassed by some of that behavior, and here’s our chance to show what we really care about.”

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