The NCAA has named Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, as its next president effective March 2023 to replace the retiring Mark Emmert.
Baker, a Republican who has been governor since January 2015, played power forward for Harvard’s basketball team during the 1977-78 season, but has no previous collegiate administrative experience. Baker’s term as Governor ends January 5, 2023.
“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,” said Baker. “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.”
Baker, 67, replaces Emmert, 69, who had led the NCAA since November 2010. Emmert will remain in an advisory role until June.
Baker takes over a NCAA that in January ratified a new constitution, allowing each of its divisions greater authority to self-govern. The NCAA also appointed committees in Divisions I, II, and III to implement the new constitution at their respective levels, including a Division I Transformation Committee which later this year will reveal a series of recommendations to modernize Division I to better support today’s student-athletes.
The issue of name, image and likeness has also revolutionized the collegiate athletic experience once the NCAA, having lost several high-profile legal challenges, allowed athletes to profit individually through NIL in 2021. There is no federal policy in place for NIL, leaving individual states to make its own policies despite the NCAA and many of the leaders of conferences throughout college sports — not to mention coaches — wishing there was a federal standard.
“We are excited to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA and eager for him to begin his work with our organization,” said Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor University and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, who helmed the presidential search committee. “Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus, taking on complex challenges in innovative and effective ways. … These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”