NEW YORK — NCAA President Mark Emmert hopes lessons learned through navigating the pandemic will lead college sports leaders to be more open to future reform and to prioritize opportunities for athletes when it comes time to cut costs.

In a 25-minute interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Emmert said the NCAA and its member schools have shown an uncommon ability to be nimble and responsive in addressing issues of eligibility, scheduling, recruiting, transfers and conducting championship events.

“We’ve done a whole array of things, many of which member schools in the past have said, ‘No, no, no, we can’t do that. That’s not right.’ Well, we’re doing it. And the sporting world hasn’t collapsed,” Emmert told AP. “And so can we as we move forward, say, well, why can’t we continue to do that? Why can’t we continue to provide more flexibility? Why can’t we continue to think more creatively about scheduling models and about the way we run a variety of elements of the associations?’”

He added: “I’m hoping that those lessons aren’t lost.”

It has been a grim 2020 for college sports just the same. Between the cancellation of last season’s lucrative NCAA basketball tournaments and the loss of football ticket revenue because of limited attendance, athletic departments big and small have been forced to make steep cuts.

Ohio State, for example, has made plans to lose more than $100 million, cutting wages and jobs, but not teams. Other schools plan to eliminate sports, including Iowa and Stanford, which plans to drop 11 programs from one of the largest athletic departments in the country.

At lower levels, Furman discontinued its baseball team and Akron got rid of cross country. Dozens of programs have been cut as budgets have been slashed.

“And I know everybody’s got difficult financial decisions to make. We had to make a lot inside the national office. But trying to support these students in as many ways as we possibly can has really been the hallmark of all of this,” Emmert said. “Because when you when you look at how the schools have stepped up with their health and safety support for students, it’s been pretty remarkable. It’s been extensive. It’s been hard, but it’s been really remarkable. And we need to say, ‘OK, if we can do that, why can’t we do these other things?’”

South Carolina last month fired football coach Will Muschamp at a cost of about $12 million to buy out the remainder of his contract. That move came after the athletic department implemented furloughs to address an expected $50 million in lost revenue. There is also speculation about the future of Texas football coach Tom Herman, whose buyout with his staff would be more than $20 million.

“The pandemic and the financial struggles that have come with that, even at very, very well-financed schools makes those choices clearer and a little more stark,” Emmert said of the large buyouts that have become common in major college football. “And I hope that causes folks to think longer and harder about those kind of allocation decisions. And that’s not to be critical of South Carolina or Texas or anybody else. That’s just to say that we need to be clear among ourselves as to why we’re engaged in this activity and what we are trying to accomplish collectively and individual institutions.”

Emmert spoke to the AP after participating in the Sports Business Journal’s annual Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. The event is being conducted virtually.

Recently, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an advocacy group, recently proposed removing the highest level of Division I football, known as the Bowl Subdivision, from the NCAA structure. It recommended the creation of the National College Football Association, an independent body to oversee FBS.

Major college football, the commission concluded, has created inequities across all NCAA sports and hinder the association’s ability to govern equitably.

Emmert called the recommendation “exactly the wrong thing to do.” He told AP he agrees football has “an outsized influence” over college sports.

“But that’s a reflection of the popularity of that particular sport,” he said. “And changing the organizational structure of football won’t modify that demand in any fashion.

“So when there’s a proposal to just say, well, let’s change the organization of football, move it away from all the rest of sports, somehow that will change the decision making around football. I think it’s very unlikely to happen that way. And I think it’s very likely to have the opposite effect.”


CFP RANKINGS: For the third straight week, Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State held on to the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings.

The selection committee’s second-from-last rankings had only a little movement in the top 10. Texas A&M is still fifth and Florida held at sixth.

Iowa State moved up a couple of spots to seventh after earning a spot in the Big 12 title game. Cincinnati slipped a spot to eighth after an idle week because of COVID-19 issues in the program. The Bearcats also will not play this week against Tulsa, the committee’s 24th-ranked team. Those two schools are scheduled to meet Dec. 19 in the American Athletic Conference title game.

Ohio State is also currently without a game this weekend after Michigan had to cancel because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Georgia is ninth and Miami is 10th. Coastal Carolina, coming off a big victory against BYU, jumped five spots to No. 13.

INDIANA: No. 8 Indiana canceled Tuesday’s practice and has paused all football-related activities because of an increase in COVID-19 cases within the program.

The announcement came about five hours after Purdue announced it also had canceled Tuesday’s practice to “evaluate the results of recent COVID-19 testing.”

The in-state rivals are scheduled to play Saturday for the Old Oaken Bucket. Indiana officials said no decision has yet been made about the game.


(3) IOWA 93, (16) NORTH CAROLINA 80: Jordan Bohannon scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures as No. 3 Iowa (4-0) beat No. 16 North Carolina (3-2) in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game at Iowa City, Iowa.

Luka Garza, who came into the game leading the nation in scoring at 34 points per game, had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawkeyes. It was the 24th double-double of Garza’s career, but he had his streak of 19 consecutive games of scoring 20 points or more snapped.

Garrison Brooks scored 17 points to lead five players in double figures for the Tar Heels. Day’Ron Sharpe had 13 points and RJ Davis had 12.

(5) KANSAS 73, (8) CREIGHTON 72: Jalen Wilson hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining, then watched as Marcus Zegarowski missed the last of three free throws after fouling him with 1.1 seconds left, allowing fifth-ranked Kansas (5-1) to escape with a victory over No. 8 Creighton (3-1).

Wilson finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Christian Braun scored 14 points, missing a foul shot that could have clinched the game with 12.5 seconds to go, and David McCormack contributed 13 points as the Jayhawks won their fifth straight against the Bluejays.

Denzel Mahoney gave Creighton a chance down the stretch. He hit a 3-pointer with 1:22 left to get the Bluejays within 70-68, then picked the pocket of Bryce Thompson and coasted for the tying layup with just over a minute to go.

(12) TENNESSEE 56, COLORADO 47: After five pandemic-related postponements, No. 12 Tennessee struggling to awin over Colorado at Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Vols (1-0) didn’t get their first player into double figures until less than a minute remained when John Fulkerson hit two free throws to reach 11 points. Santiago Vescovi also scored 11. Reserve Jeriah Horne scored 15 points for the Buffaloes (2-1), who had their own COVID-19 problems. They had a 10-day layoff, then traveled halfway across country to finally play a game.

(22) OHIO STATE 90, NOTRE DAME 85: E.J. Liddell led five players in double figures with 19 points as the 22nd-ranked Buckeyes rallied from 11 points down in the second half and held off Notre Dame 90-85 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in South Bend, Indiana.

Justice Seuing and C.J. Walker each had 16 points, Duane Washington Jr. added 13 and Justin Ahrens 12 as the Buckeyes improved to 4-0 by hitting 11 of 23 3-pointers and 21 of 24 free throws.

Prentiss Hubb led the Fighting Irish (1-2) with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting, including 5 of 9 from beyond the 3-point line.

UNLV: A positive COVID-19 test within UNLV’s men’s basketball program has cause the Runnin’ Rebels to cancel their home game with Eastern Washington on Wednesday.

Eastern Washington was notified of the test before traveling to Las Vegas from Eugene, Oregon, after playing the Ducks Monday night. The Eagles instead flew back to Spokane.

DEPAUL: DePaul says its men’s basketball game against No. 9 Villanova on Dec. 14 has been postponed.

The announcement from the school Tuesday followed an earlier announcement by the Big East that the Blue Demons would not play Seton Hall on Friday.

DePaul has paused team activities because of positive COVID-19 tests in the program. The Blue Demons have yet to play a game in a season that was scheduled to open two weeks ago.

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