Mark Emmert has served as the NCAA president since Nov. 1, 2010, and there have been calls for his removal since, oh, about 2011. Those shouts reached their highest decibel yet last month, when it was revealed the NCAA women's basketball tournament was being run under Fyre Fest-esque conditions compared to the luxury, no-stone-left-unturned nature of the men's event.
As is the nature of his position, Emmert bore no personal responsibility for the fiasco, given that he wasn't involved in the planning of either tournament. But, as has been the nature of his decade-long run atop college sports' governing body, his response to the fiasco generally pissed people off and led them to wonder what, exactly, he does to earn justify nearly $4 million a year in compensation.
But there is another possibility that has been under-discussed during Emmert Watch. The man could just up and leave for another job.
That's the state of play at LSU where, according to the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, the search for the school's new chief executive has taken on an air of desperation. "Applications were due Monday, a deadline that was extended by more than a month after the university failed to attract as many competitive applicants as it had hoped, according to sources familiar with the situation, who blame the ongoing Title IX scandal for having a chilling effect on the search," the site wrote.
The report is a reminder of the upside-down nature of higher education compared to college sports. The job became open when F. King Alexander left for Oregon State, when in athletics it would be LSU poaching Oregon State's personnel. Part of the reason LSU has struggled to attract quality candidates is the low pay; Alexander made $600,000 to run LSU, less than what the Tigers' offensive line coach made in 2020.
And, as mentioned above, the entire LSU community is engulfed in scandal right now -- so much so that Alexander resigned from Oregon State for overlooking multiple sexual assault allegations against former LSU head coach Les Miles. So it's an open question as to whether LSU could marshal enough funds to make the move worth Emmert's while.
But perhaps the best example of how different college education is from college athletics is, in academia, Emmert is generally regarded as a rock star. It is presidents and chancellors who run the NCAA, and they selected Emmert -- then the president at Washington -- and they have handed him raise after raise over the course of his decade in Indianapolis.
Emmert's LSU tenure, from 1999 to 2004, is remembered positively in Baton Rouge. He spearheaded an initiative to up the university's talent pool of professors and researches, and he hired Nick Saban away from Michigan State.
So, according to the report, LSU is dotting its Is and crossing its Ts in hopes of landing its dream candidate.
Emmert has close friends in Baton Rouge, including LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward, whose stepson is married to Emmert’s daughter, and LSU booster Richard Lipsey, who recently returned from a wine-tasting trip he and his wife take annually with the Emmerts.
“If he came back for three years, it would be great,” former Louisiana Congressman and LSU booster James Carville told the site. “We don’t raise enough money. We don’t have access to the big foundations and he’s obviously got tons of experience. … I don’t speak for him but I think he would be a really good choice. We need to crank up the energy level. We need someone with mojo.”