Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), will discuss the importance of promoting the success and well-being of students participating in intercollegiate athletic programs when he delivers the 2014 fall semester President’s Lecture at Western Connecticut State University on Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Emmert’s lecture on “The Collegiate Model for the 21st Century,” presented as part of the WCSU President’s Lecture Series, will be at 7:30 p.m. in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend.
Emmert, who became the fifth president of the NCAA in October 2010, will address core values inherent in the philosophy of the NCAA and Division III programs such as WCSU that promote the well-rounded development of student-athletes through an emphasis on both competitive success and personal well-being. His lecture will underscore the role of these values in preserving continuity during a period of major change in collegiate athletics as programs in all NCAA divisions confront important decisions that will reshape their futures.
“The true value of college sports, the reason we as an Association do what we do, goes far beyond the games we love,” Emmert wrote in his president’s message posted on the NCAA website. “It lies in our ability to provide educational opportunities that transform the lives of young people. Behind the made shots and perfect serves, college sports are quietly functioning as a vital means to educate those who otherwise might not have ever experienced higher education.”
“Nearly 20 percent of student-athletes are in the first generation of their families to attend college,” he observed. “And for many of those student-athletes, that fact is made possible by the $2.7 billion in athletic scholarships that are awarded by NCAA colleges and universities.”
In August, the NCAA Board of Directors approved a package of major reforms that will allow greater autonomy to the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC to restructure student-athlete scholarships and stipends to cover the full cost of college attendance as well as health insurance benefits. At the press conference announcing the board decision, Emmert described the reforms as the product of long and inclusive discussions aimed at addressing the total expenses that student-athletes must meet during their college studies.
Emmert noted that more than eight in 10 student-athletes earn bachelor’s degrees, with student-athlete graduation rates consistently higher than those for the general college student population. “These young people use their education as a springboard to a future they may not have been able to envision for themselves without college sports,” he said. “We all know that most of our student-athletes are not going to play professional sports. But we can rest assured they are going to live better lives for having played college sports.”
Prior to assuming his current position at the NCAA, Emmert served from 2004 to 2010 as president of the University of Washington. An alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at UW, he played a central role as president in advancing the university’s success as one of the nation’s leading higher education institutions in securing research grant and contract funding.
Previously, he held top administrative positions as chief operating and academic officer at the University of Connecticut from 1995 to 1999, and as chancellor of Louisiana State University from 1999 to 2004. A Ph.D. recipient in public administration from Syracuse University, he began his higher education career as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Colorado from 1985 to 1992, and as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Montana State University from 1992 to 1995.
Emmert has written extensively in professional journals about topics in higher education and public administration. He is a member of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues that serves as part of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former chair of the Executive Group of the Worldwide Universities Network and served on the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board.
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