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Patrick Hruby

The Mark Emmert-to-English Translator

Making sense of the NCAA president's contentious press conference

Sports on Earth

National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert held a pre-Final Four press conference Thursday that was described as “testy,” “defiant,” a “filibuster” and “one long, sonorous fart noise.” Criticism aside, what did the most popular man in college sports actually have to say?

Herein, Sports on Earth presents an Emmert-to-English translation:

Emmert: First of all, I wanted to talk about the changes that have been going on and we’ve been engaged in in the NCAA. I guess anyone would describe this as a challenging, dynamic, occasionally difficult time in intercollegiate athletics, but at the same time it’s one of dynamic change, one where we’ve got people all across the association being involved in driving some significant changes … while there’s always people that don’t like change when it occurs, the fact of the matter is that change is what we’re about in the NCAA right now and we’re trying to work our way through some very, very difficult changes to make the whole notion of intercollegiate athletics strong and viable going into the second century of the NCAA and of college sport.

English: “The part where the athletes do the work and we keep the money? That’s not changing.”

Emmert: This is the so‑called miscellaneous expense allowance, the proposal to allow schools to, at their option, increase the value of scholarships an additional $2,000 to cover what’s referred to in higher education jargon as a ‘miscellaneous expense,’ sometimes confused with ‘pay for play,’ which is absolutely wrong. It is to cover the real cost of attendance and only the real cost of attendance for a student‑athlete.

English: “These are not the taxable revenues you’re looking for.” [Waves hand in direction of IRS officers.]

Emmert: There’s been a piece in the past day or two talking about my experiences, my past stops. You need to know this, and I don’t expect to spend any time on this today, but the fact of the matter is that everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been asked by boards or other bosses to help drive change. I’m very proud of the changes that have been made at every place I’ve ever been along the way.

English: “Of course, nobody at the University of Connecticut asked me to change a massive construction project that later produced scandal and $100 million-plus cost overruns. Probably because I knew about the problems but didn’t tell anyone. Did I mention the word ‘change?’”

Emmert: If you’re not getting sued today, you’re not doing anything. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t have litigation pending.

English: “All of my friends, family members and acquaintances also work for monopsonic cartels.

Emmert: We’re an athletic association. We don’t accredit academic institutions. We don’t go into the classroom and say, ‘we don’t like the quality of this degree.’ That’s not the job of an athletic association.

English: “We’re an athletic association. We don’t make and enforce eligibility rules related to academic performance any more than we allow a consortium of chemistry professors to determine the length of the shot clock. We don’t go into high school classrooms and say, ‘we don’t like the quality of this degree.’ We didn’t coin the term ‘student-athlete’ to dodge paying workers’ compensation claims, and we haven’t run a decades-long propaganda campaign to make it seem like our primary purpose is to enhance academics. Oh, wait — we totally do all of that. But that’s not the job of an athletic association.”

Emmert: Yeah, the Rutgers case in particular is such a new case, I haven’t spent any time looking at it. I saw the video, like most everybody did. I find that video pretty appalling, to say the least. At the least, I think it requires us to have a conversation.

English: “By conversation, I mean a new special working group attached to the auxiliary board of a special subcommittee.”

Emmert: The Miami case is obviously a significant blow to the confidence people have in enforcement, and we’ve worked very, very hard to be as open and frank about that case. We’ve dealt with it directly. If we have to change, continue to change, the culture of enforcement, that’s certainly on me and something I’m working hard on.

English: “The buck stops with the people I fired.”

Emmert: I don’t think the Ohio State infractions case caused a loss of confidence in the enforcement process.

English: “People say O.J. did it, but can we really be sure?”

Emmert: First of all, I think it’s very important to recognize in that case at Auburn, what there is is a newspaper story. That’s it. We haven’t done anything with that case because we don’t know anything about it. What we know is what we read in the newspaper.

English: “I read the entire newspaper story, and there wasn’t a single allegation from a convicted Ponzi schemer. So I’m not sure why we would do anything.”

Emmert: We’re not a state actor, don’t want to be a state actor. There will always be limitations to what can and can’t be done.

English: “We really, really don’t want to be a state actor, because if we were, we would have to worry about things like due process.”

Emmert [to CBS Sports writer Dennis Dodd, who has called for Emmert's resignation]: Thanks for the job advice. Kept my job anyway.

English: “Whooo! S–k it, haters!

Read the original article at Sports on Earth