The NCAA has named Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker as its new president, succeeding Mark Emmert.
Baker, a Republican who has been governor since January 2015 but will end his second term in January, will start his new office on March 1. He played power forward for the Harvard basketball team during the 1977-78 season, but had no prior collegiate managerial experience. He spent most of his career in Massachusetts state government but spent a decade in health care administration. Baker, 66, has degrees from both Harvard and Northwestern.
In April, Emmert announced that he was resigning. He has led the NCAA since November 2010 and in April 2021 his contract was extended through 2025. Emmert will remain in an advisory role through June.
“We are excited to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA, and we look forward to him beginning his work with our organization,” Baylor University President Linda Livingston and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors said in a statement. “Governor Baker has demonstrated an impressive ability to bridge divisions and build bipartisan consensus, while addressing complex challenges in innovative and effective ways. As a former student-athlete himself, husband of a former college gymnast, and father of two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to “These skills and perspectives will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”
Livingston led the presidential search along with six others, including former Duke basketball player Grant Hill and now co-owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
Baker’s background in politics and politics fueled his candidacy, as the NCAA has faced several high-profile legal challenges in recent years. In 2021, the NCAA began allowing athletes to sport their name, image, and likeness, but the rules differ between states as there is no federal policy, despite the wishes of chief athletic directors and conference commissioners. In a statement announcing Baker’s appointment, the NCAA noted that an “indefensible cocktail of individual state laws” limited its authority.
“The NCAA faces complex and important challenges, but I am excited to act because the incredible opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is worth the challenge,” Baker said in a statement. “And to the fans who faithfully fill stadiums, grandstands, and gyms from coast to coast, I am anxious to ensure that the competitions we all love to watch are around for generations to come. Over the coming months, I will begin working with student-athletes and NCAA members as we modernize college sports to fit the world of Today, while preserving its basic value.
Baker presides over the transitional NCAA that in January ratified a new constitution, allowing each of its divisions more power for self-governance. The NCAA noted that Baker’s history of “crafting successful, bipartisan solutions to complex problems” was notable to the search committee.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”