During a day that included meetings with school district representatives, university leaders and student-athletes, NCAA President Mark Emmert visited Philadelphia and Main Campus last week to educate high school students on new eligibility requirements and to encourage students to put academics ahead of athletics.
Emmert’s day in the city on Nov. 6 started with a meeting about educational preparedness with university leaders sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and was followed by meetings with community and religious leaders along with representatives from the school district to “talk about how we can reach young men and women to make sure they’re paying attention to their academics while getting ready for college.”
“You’ve got to have your academic house in order, not just a good left hand and a jump shot,” Emmert said in an interview. “You’ve got to have English and math, too.”
Students entering Division I athletics after Aug. 1, 2016 will face updated eligibility standards and Emmert said they are working to educate high school students on the rules.
Emmert also held a “Student-Athlete Huddle” with 150 student-athletes in the Fox Gittis Room in the Liacouras Center.
During the hour-long Q-and-A session, Emmert addressed a wide-range of subjects. He most notably said there could be changes in the coming months to the rules that govern student-athletes.
“The rules have become ridiculously complicated,” Emmert said. “They try to govern way too much in the lives of not just athletes, but the athletic departments and schools and conferences. Over the coming school year and into the summer you’ll see, I hope, some debate and hopefully some changes that’ll actually have an impact on your lives either next year or the year after.”
Emmert added that in order to allow students to manage their schedules more efficiently to pursue part-time jobs and internships, the NCAA would consider policy changes.
“That may require us to look at our rules and look at our policies and processes, and we’re happy to have our membership do that, I hope we can,” Emmert said.
In an interview after the event, Emmert addressed issues facing Temple and the NCAA.
When asked about the likelihood of the enactment of sexual assault policies from the NCAA, Emmert said the NCAA would not be implementing specific discipline policies, but he said those would be left to the universities.
However, while the NCAA has not shown interest in implementing sexual assault policies, the association has looked to advise universities as they handle the issue.
“So far, the members have not wanted to create specific national policies, but [rather] to provide support, encouragement and advice to campuses as they deal with these issues,” Emmert said. “It’s treated more as an educational issue and one of working with student-athletes, working with non-athletes, making sure they understand the causes and prevention of relationship violence. It’s a national plague that we all need to deal with.”
Emmert also said the NCAA needs to do a better job at showing employers how student-athletes are valuable in the workplace.
“Somebody who’s played soccer or softball at Temple, they not only have a great education, they know how to manage time, they know how to lead, they know to follow, they know how to be committed to teamwork,” Emmert said. “Those are skills that employers value greatly, but they may not know that that’s what it means to be a Division I athlete at a place like this. At the university level, the conference level and the national level, we need to tell the message more and more of the skills someone develops as an athlete.”
When asked about his stance on changes to Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know law, Emmert said he didn’t know enough about the issue to comment.
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University, there’s been an increased call to change the state-related universities’ – Lincoln University, Penn State, Temple and the University of Pittsburgh – standing with the state. The four universities are in the Right-to-Know law but are not considered state agencies.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @SeanCarlin84.