March 4, 2024

School Sports activities

FILE – NCAA President Charlie Baker speaks as the ladies’s and males’s NCAA Champion groups from the 2022-2023 season are celebrated throughout School Athlete Day on the South Garden of the White Home, Monday, June 12, 2023, in Washington. AP Photograph/Andrew Harnik, File

BOSTON (AP) — Rising up in a Boston suburb within the Sixties, Charlie Baker discovered his first political lesson — the artwork of listening to competing viewpoints — across the dinner desk as his Democratic mom and Republican father hashed out the subjects of the day.

There was a cause he was given two ears and one mouth, his mom would inform him.

It’s a narrative Baker repeatedly advised as Massachusetts governor, and one that gives classes for his job as president of the NCAA — the nation’s largest school sports activities governing physique overseeing some 500,000 athletes at greater than 1,100 faculties.

Earlier this month, the 6-foot-6 former Harvard basketball participant outlined a imaginative and prescient for a brand new NCAA subdivision on the very prime of faculty sports activities in a letter he despatched to the greater than 350 Division I faculties. It was an try partially to grapple with one of many diciest points dealing with the NCAA — how greatest to compensate school athletes.

Baker mentioned his proposal would require faculties that wish to be part of the brand new tier to decide to paying athletes tens of hundreds of {dollars} per yr by way of a belief fund. He additionally steered all Division I faculties deliver title, picture and likeness compensation for his or her athletes in-house by way of group licensing and take away limits on instructional advantages faculties can present their gamers

“Some persons are going to say you’re going too far and other people will say however you’re not going far sufficient,” Baker mentioned.

It’s half of a bigger effort by the 67-year-old to assist persuade lawmakers in Washington that the NCAA is making an attempt to get forward of its authorized troubles as they face antitrust challenges that would usher in a brand new actuality the place some athletes are handled like paid staff. Coming to phrases with that future is one cause the NCAA employed Baker.

Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor College and chair of NCAA board of governors, mentioned Baker’s historical past as governor and stint as a former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Well being Care demonstrated a capability to pay attention, be taught and adapt.

“In each of these roles as governor and well being care CEO he was in very complicated environments and labored to resolve some fairly arduous, what appeared to be intractable, issues,” mentioned Livingstone, who was a part of the workforce that employed Baker. She mentioned the truth that Baker didn’t come from the worlds of academia or athletics was one other plus.

What the NCAA wants most from Baker is assist in discovering a mannequin that may deliver extra stability to athletics. Livingstone mentioned that mannequin ought to present compensation for athletes however cease wanting designating them staff.

“We’re all working with Charlie as we develop these concepts collectively,” she mentioned.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick mentioned Baker appreciates the disaster school athletics is in and has introduced a brand new urgency to the function.

“There’s the query of how governable the NCAA is and I believe Charlie form of poses that query in actual time, as a result of he’s such an efficient chief and supervisor,” Swarbrick mentioned. “If he can’t engineer the change, I don’t assume anyone can.”

For Baker, navigating doubtlessly uneven political waters was a talent he honed as a Republican in Democratic Massachusetts, adapting to a generally frosty political surroundings by making as many allies as doable and selecting his fights fastidiously.

It was a lesson discovered partially throughout his first run for governor in opposition to Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick in 2010. In the course of the race, Baker got here off as too conservative and a sore loser, mentioned Erin O’Brien, an affiliate professor of political science on the College of Massachusetts-Boston.

“4 years later he ran as somebody who was extra bipartisan, congenial and I believe that helped him,” O’Brien mentioned. “He confirmed he might be taught and alter course.”

Though Baker at occasions discovered himself at odds with some unions, he developed a public “bromance” with then-Democratic Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh, a former labor lawyer and present government director of the Nationwide Hockey League Gamers’ Affiliation.

“He’s used to a semi-hostile surroundings. He’s used to working with individuals who aren’t precisely positive about him,” O’Brien mentioned. “As governor, he might associate with the Democratic leaders with some small modifications. With the NCAA, member faculties should not going to be happy with the established order. He must be extra of a doer.”

Michael McCann, a legislation professor and director of the Sports activities and Leisure Legislation Institute on the College of New Hampshire, mentioned Baker looks like a superb match for an almost inconceivable job.

“He has the best background for what the NCAA must do, which is to reorient itself,” McCann mentioned. “He’s pragmatic, he’s actuality based mostly, he understands the significance of deal making.”

Throughout his eight years as governor Baker confronted a slew of challenges, from battling blizzards, to making an attempt to repair a teetering public transit system, to main the state by way of the pandemic. He additionally drew the ire of former President Donald Trump by refusing to endorse or vote for him 2016 and 2020.

One problem that vexed Baker all through his tenure was the state of metropolitan Boston’s public transit system. Baker poured billions into changing tracks, fixing alerts and updating electrical methods at the same time as officers handled runaway trains, subway automobiles belching smoke and rush hour trains operating on weekend schedules.

At occasions the system appeared unfixable, not not like the NCAA. McCann mentioned the group has tried to cling to a mannequin that doesn’t resonate with the general public anymore — the concept athletes at prime faculties are newbie athletes, at the same time as school sports activities rakes in billions yearly.

Baker might want to steer faculties towards a brand new mannequin, McCann mentioned.

“It’s an enormous endeavor and he knew that. I don’t know if there’s a proper particular person for the job as a result of it’s so difficult,” he mentioned. “The open-ended query is whether or not it’s too late for the NCAA.”

AP School Soccer Author Ralph D. Russo contributed.