Finally tonight, a quick note of thanks to Mark Emmert, whose been looking like an odds on favorite to soon be the ex-head of the increasingly troubled NCAA. Emmert has lately been on a media tour of sorts and to say it’s been a disaster would be giving it and him a ton of undue credit.
In an effort to defend a system that has become ethically indefensible, Emmert has recently shown himself to be hopelessly tone deaf and as a result added fuel to a wildfire that now seems certain to drastically alter, if not flat out destroy, the very system he fronts.
His petulance couldn’t be more timely because this Friday is when football players at Northwestern University will vote on whether or not to unionize, a right recently approved by the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB fittingly sees the players not as students-athletes but as the student-employees they really are, and no matter how Friday’s vote goes, there’s no way that paste is going back in the tube.
The union vote, combined with Ed O’Bannon’s suit involving the NCAA’s use of player images, Jeffrey Kessler’s anti-trust suit charging them with price fixing, and Shawne Alston’s suit essentially charging restraint of trade, the die seems cast with only the details of the NCAA’s demise yet to be defined.
Faced with that reality, instead of addressing complaints that are clearly legitimate, Emmert has taken to showing his true colors and foolishly hastening his own end. So to the ever clueless Mr. Emmert, on behalf of your many critics and the college athletes who deserve a better shake, I thank you.
Bryant Gumbel, Real Sports
Managing Director, Social at R/GA. Co-founder of Blogs with Balls and future owner of the MLB's Austin Bats.