SAN ANTONIO -- NCAA president Mark Emmert on Thursday called for new rules so parents no longer “sell the athletic services” of their children in the wake of backlash following the investigation into Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Emmert didn’t mention the Heisman Trophy winner during his first state of the association speech at the NCAA’s annual convention. But he said the NCAA could vote on new enforcements early as April.
“It’s wrong for parents to sell the athletic services of their student athletes to a university, and we need to make sure that we have rules to stop that problem,” Emmert said. “And today we don’t. We have to fix that. Student athletes trading on their standing as star student athletes for money or benefits is not acceptable, and we need to address it and make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Emmert didn’t suggest what new rules might look like, but he said the measures must be clear so that the public understands what’s a violation and what isn’t.
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Emmert, who took over from interim president Jim Isch in October, led his first convention with the NCAA besieged by criticism for its handling of several college football scandals this season.
In the Newton case, the NCAA ruled the junior college transfer could continue playing for the eventual BCS national champions, even though his father had been seeking money from Mississippi State, which also recruited him.
That was followed by the NCAA suspending five Ohio State players for five games next season for selling memorabilia items, but still allowing them to play in the Sugar Bowl.
Critics assailed the NCAA for being selective with enforcement and the severity of punishments handed down.
So intense was the scrutiny that the NCAA took the unusual step last month of defending its rulings on its website, saying it does not play favorites or make decisions based on financial considerations.
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Emmert said it’s a matter of clarity.
“If you look at the Newton case, a lot of people came away from that, because it’s a complicated case, saying, ‘Gosh, it’s OK for a father to solicit money for the services for his son or daughter?’” Emmert said. “The answer to that is, ‘No, it isn’t.’ But we don’t have a rule that makes that clear.”
Emmert said discussions relating to future Newton-type cases is one of about five enforcement issues the NCAA could vote on by April during its board of directors meeting in Indianapolis.
Seizing on the Ohio State incident -- while not specifically mentioning it -- Emmert said the NCAA needs to review and make public who gets to play in bowl games when violations occur. He also said the NCAA will take another look at the relationships between players and agents.
“Student athletes are students. They’re not professionals, and we’re not going to pay them,” Emmert said. “And we’re not going to allow other people to pay them to play.”