Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is set to take over as NCAA president Mark Emmert when he leaves his post at the end of February, the organization announced Thursday.
Baker, a Republican and a graduate of Harvard University, assumed his role as governor in January 2015 and has held positions in other offices of the Massachusetts government, including secretary of health and human services and secretary of administration and finance.
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“I am honored to become the next president of the NCAA, an organization that impacts millions of families and countless communities across this country every day,” Baker said in a news release. “The NCAA is confronting complex and significant challenges, but I am excited to get to work as the awesome opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is more than worth the challenge. And for the fans that faithfully fill stadiums, stands and gyms from coast to coast, I am eager to ensure the competitions we all love to follow are there for generations to come. Over the coming months, I will begin working with student-athletes and NCAA members as we modernize college sports to suit today's world, while preserving its essential value.”
As the NCAA still develops and navigates the murky waters of name, image and likeness, the organization noted the governor’s history of “successfully forging bipartisan solutions to complex problems.”
The Athletic first reported Baker’s new role.
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“We are excited to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA and eager for him to begin his work with our organization,” Baylor University and NCAA Board of Governors Chair Linda Livingstone said. “Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus, taking on complex challenges in innovative and effective ways. As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience. These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”
Emmert announced in April he would step down from his role by 2023. He has been at the forefront of some of the most transformative years in college athletics. The NCAA suffered a series of damaging court losses in the past decade that peaked with the 9-0 Supreme Court ruling against the NCAA in an antitrust case. The decision undercut the organization’s ability to govern college sports and prompted a total overhaul how it operates.
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“Throughout my tenure I’ve emphasized the need to focus on the experience and priorities of student-athletes,” Emmert said at the time. “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.”
Emmert was appointed to the job in April 2010.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.