NCAA president Mark Emmert on Thursday made it clear that the NCAA has no authority to tell the SEC, ACC or Big 12 — or any other conference or school, for that matter — that it can’t play college football this fall.
“We have no authority to do that,” he said during one of the NCAA’s “Social Series” on Twitter. “We don’t have authority to say to a school, ‘Yeah, OK, we know that your conference isn’t playing and you want to go ahead and play over here’ — I may think that’s a silly idea, but it’s not up to me, it’s not up to anybody, that school has its own authority to do that. Now, its conference colleagues can say, ‘You know if you do that, we’re going to throw you out of the conference,’ that’s fine, but they still can do what they want there. That’s never been the prerogative of the NCAA, and in my opinion, it never should be.”
Emmert didn’t specifically mention Nebraska, which issued a statement Tuesday reflecting its disappointment following the Big Ten’s decision to postpone fall sports.
“We hope it may be possible for our student athletes to have the opportunity to compete,” the statement said.
Nebraska then ended speculation about trying to play elsewhere when it issued another statement Thursday saying it is “a fully committed member of the Big Ten Conference.”
Emmert said Thursday he understands fans’ frustration over the patchwork plans of college athletics this fall and the outcry for leadership from the NCAA.
“I get that people want simple answers,” he said. “I get that it’s frustrating that some conferences are playing and some aren’t right now. That’s just the way it has to be to do this inside college sports. It’s not right or wrong, or better or worse. When people say, well, if we just had a czar to come in and say, ‘We’re going to make a decision, that’ll be it,’ history, if it’s taught us anything, people love the concept of a czar, but they hate czars. Authoritarianism is a really fun concept, it just sucks when people actually have to live under it. Sure, it’s fun to talk about, but nobody who actually advocates for it has actually lived inside it.”
Emmert fielded a wide range of questions from NCAA correspondent Andy Katz on the heels of the news that the NCAA would not be hosting its 22 fall championships this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Katz asked Emmert specifically about why the NCAA doesn’t have control over the FBS postseason, as it’s the only fall sport that is different.
Emmert said it has always been that way.
“The NCAA has never had oversight over the bowl games or postseason play in the highest level of football,” he said. “Even back in the ’80s, when there was a single TV contract, there was some level of control over the bowls and the like, but the postseason play in football evolved organically literally over 100 years.”
“The seasons would end and there were these bowl games, and there never has been an NCAA playoff like we have in FCS football and every other NCAA sports,” he said. “It only made sense that FBS postseason play had to evolve on its own basis. The College Football Playoff and the old BCS is nothing more than a series of contractual agreements among those 10 conferences that say let’s talk about how we want to end the year. They came together with this model, and it works remarkably well.”