With Mark Emmert Stepping Down, the N.C.A.A. Will Go the ‘Help Wanted’ Route

The association, largely governed by about 1,100 member colleges and universities, has often been characterized by reluctance, lethargy, bureaucracy, selective indifference and factionalization. While the N.C.A.A.’s freshly rewritten constitution looks to make it into a leaner money-printing machine since the association still controls the television contract for the lucrative Division I men’s basketball tournament, the replacement of a titular chieftain can do only so much.

It was just last month, after all, that Emmert said at the Division I women’s basketball Final Four that it was “entirely up to the schools” whether to overhaul the revenue distribution system that rewards conferences with windfalls for men’s basketball performance while offering nothing for the triumphs of women’s teams.

Emmert, a political scientist who took over in 2010 and led the N.C.A.A. at moments when it flexed power as never before, has long favored the representative democracy defense, and it is not entirely meritless. But the pileup of crises includes some of his team’s own making, and one result is a presidency whose appeals for a successor may be limited to a big salary, access to private jets and reliably good Final Four tickets, not meaningful control.

So it came as no surprise when, for instance, Robert M. Gates, the former United States defense secretary who oversaw the N.C.A.A.’s constitutional rewrite, said through an aide on Wednesday that he was not interested in the post. Kirk Schulz, the Washington State University president and a former N.C.A.A. board chair, said Wednesday that he was “not interested in being considered.”

A Division I conference commissioner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid rupturing professional relationships, roared with laughter when asked if they wanted the job. (The commissioner was not Greg Sankey, the Southeastern Conference leader who has already emerged as arguably the most powerful figure in college sports. There are no indications that he has designs on Emmert’s office.)

Mary Sue Coleman, the interim president at the University of Michigan, said not to “take the rumblings seriously about me and the N.C.A.A.”

“What the organization needs is a younger experienced person filled with great ideas about how to navigate an uncertain future for intercollegiate sports,” Coleman, 78, said in an email. She was an N.C.A.A. board member when Emmert received a contract extension last year.

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