NCAA picks Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as next president

Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial at Ashburton Memorial Park on October 28, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Matt Stone | MediaNews Group | Boston Herald via Getty Images

The NCAA said Thursday it has chosen Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as its next president.

Baker will start in the position in March, two months after his second term as governor ends on Jan. 5. He will succeed Mark Emmert, who has held the role since 2010.

Baker’s background in government made him a top choice for the NCAA, which has confronted a variety of national legal and regulatory controversies in recent years. The organization was embroiled in a Supreme Court case last year over student-athlete compensation.

“Throughout the search process, Governor Baker’s history of successfully forging bipartisan solutions to complex problems stood out to the search committee as uniquely suited to the NCAA’s present needs,” the NCAA wrote in a Thursday press release.

Emmert will continue consulting for the NCAA until June 2023.

Baker, a two-term Republican in a predominantly Democratic state, is the first NCAA president without a professional background at higher education institutions or college sports. He did, however, play varsity basketball at Harvard.

“The biggest quality he brings is his political acumen,” said Tom McMillen, president of the LEAD1 Association, which represents 131 athletic directors in the Football Bowl Subdivision. “He understands how to build bridges not only to our schools but to our policymakers.”

Before serving two terms as governor in Massachusetts, Baker held executive positions at a health care company and was CEO of nonprofit Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

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