(Charlie Baker has already found a landing spot for his post-political career.Outgoing Massachusetts Gov.
The second-term Republican governor has been named as the next president of the National Collegiate Athletics Association, the organization said.
Baker, who played basketball at Harvard University, will take the reins in March from Dr. Mark Emmert. Emmert will serve as a consultant to the organization through June.
“I am honored to become the next president of the NCAA, an organization that impacts millions of families and countless communities across this country every day,” Baker, whose term ends Jan. 5, said in a release. “The NCAA is confronting complex and significant challenges, but I am excited to get to work as the awesome opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is more than worth the challenge.”
Linda Livingston, who serves as president of Baylor University and is chairwoman of the NCAA’s Board of Governors, said Baker has “shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus” while facing “complex challenges in innovative and effective ways.”
That may prove essential in debates such as the contentious question of whether to allow biological males to compete as transgender females in women’s sports competitions. The case of University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas has been a rallying point for opponents who see the woke transgender movement as discriminatory toward women.
Baker also will be forced to navigate other recent changes, such as the ability of college athletes to receive compensation following a recent Supreme Court ruling. That may put colleges that prohibit the practice on an unlevel playing field in terms of recruitment.
“As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience,” Livingston said in a release. “These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”
Baker, according to the release, is “credited with bringing bipartisan leadership” to Massachusetts while guiding the state through “an exceptionally turbulent period.”
The appointment is the culmination, according to the release, of a comprehensive national search for a new leader that included input from more than 300 NCAA stakeholders.
The NCAA has undergone significant change recently, primarily through approved name, image and likeness rules for athletes. Emmert had taken on an increasing amount of criticism in recent years, punctuated in 2021 when the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments—showcase events—were held in respective “bubbles” at Indianapolis and San Antonio.
“We know that to be successful, the NCAA president needs to possess the ability to balance competing priorities, inspire a shared vision, and create a broad sense of trust,” Grant Hill, an independent member of the NCAA Board of Governors and member of the presidential search committee, said in a release.
“As governor of Massachusetts and a successful private sector CEO, Charlie Baker has demonstrated the type of results-oriented, bipartisan approach that we will need to bolster the well-being of student-athletes, realize the opportunities and overcome the challenges facing the NCAA,” Hill said.
Baker comes to the NCAA at a time when legal shifts surrounding college sports have challenged the organization’s ability to efficiently and effectively regulate college athletics, according to the release.
The soon-to-be former governor will be charged, according to the release, with building on the organization’s ongoing transformation efforts, which includes the 2022 ratification of a new constitution that gives greater powers to its divisions, athletic conferences, and member schools.
Baker, who is serving as the 72nd governor of Massachusetts, has worked in the business and nonprofit sectors, aside from politics, and played basketball for the Crimson. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.