On Friday, K-State President Kirk Schulz was unanimously appointed chairman of the NCAA Board of Governors. You can read more about the Board of Governors at this link, but in essence it has oversight over all NCAA-related issues.
The briefest perusal of the weekend's other headlines involving the NCAA shows this is a tumultuous time for the association. On Saturday, the NCAA adopted its so-called "autonomy" restructuring. Autonomy gives the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC flexibility to make their own rules within certain categories, which is a direct response to frustration from larger Division I schools to smaller schools blocking cost-of-attendance and similar proposals.
Less significantly for overall NCAA operations, but no less visible nationally, was the proposed settlement reached between the NCAA and Penn State. If approved, this settlement would replace the hastily entered consent decree in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and subsequent Freeh Report. Given the Penn State fan reaction, you'd assume all that occurred was reinstatement of the vacated wins from 1998 to 2011.
The settlement does remove all prior sanctions against Penn State, including Joe Paterno's precious vacated wins, but the $60 million fine will now be distributed to activities and programs aimed at preventing child sexual abuse. Interestingly, Penn State also "acknowledges the NCAA's legitimate and good faith interest and concern regarding the Jerry Sandusky matter." Penn State also agreed to an "Athletics Integrity Agreement" and will receive oversight from Senator George Mitchell and his firm. It strikes one as somewhat concerning that figuring out how to handle child rape would require any external oversight.
Today's agreement with Penn State reaffirms our authority to act. The NCAA has a legitimate role when a member's actions threaten the integrity of college sports. We acted in good faith in addressing the failures and subsequent improvements on Penn State's campus. We must acknowledge the continued progress of the university while also maintaining our commitment to supporting the survivors of child sexual abuse.
So what's the takeaway here? K-State's university president will be the most visible and quoted NCAA official other than Mark Emmert through January 2017. He will chair the board that is tasked with oversight of all NCAA activities, which means he will lead and set the agenda for the most powerful group at a time of momentous change in college athletics. He will be the one the reactionaries quote on Twitter while injuring their knees during their Pavlovian response to all things NCAA.
Schulz isn't afraid to think big. He's set a very public goal to make Kansas State a top 50 research institution by 2025. Under his watch, K-State has set records for fundraising and enrollment. Perhaps this engineer from
Mississippi State Virginia Tech will have similar big ideas and new direction for the NCAA.
Congratulations and good luck, Dr. Schulz.