Last week, it was announced that outgoing Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is taking over for Mark Emmert as president of the NCAA on March 1. First of all, what a low bar Baker has to top. Secondly, it’s a very interesting choice, considering the extent of his experience in the collegiate sports landscape was playing power forward at Harvard in the 70s. While it may not make complete sense to bring someone into the role who has zero experience in a college athletics administrative role (it’s also worth wondering why Baker took it), one issue justifies the hiring. Name, image, and likeness.
As it sits right now, NIL is kind of all over the place. In every direction you look, businesses, both local and national, are showering high-profile college athletes with money (have you seen Garrett Shrader in those car commercials?). That being said, don’t think it hasn’t created several fishy situations. Look at Isaiah Wong very nearly transferring from Miami over threats of his NIL deal not increasing. Government regulations are also more restrictive in some states as opposed to others. Bringing in someone like Baker who is familiar with the government side of things could be a big help in navigating that aspect to keep all parties happy.
This brings us to one Adam Weitsman. The businessman stated that he would offer $1 million to select recruits in order to help bring them to Syracuse just a few months ago. Let’s look at SU hoops specifically for this. Wouldn’t that come in handy right now? We are less than two weeks away from the new year and the Orange have been less successful at bringing in someone from the class of ’23 than Mac Jones was trying to tackle Chandler Jones yesterday. If Weitsman money was available sooner, would a JP Estrella or an Elijah Gertrude find himself in CNY next year?
Let’s say Baker was president of the NCAA when Wong’s threats made headlines. Would it have been as big of a story? Don’t think so. It appears as though Baker’s primary job as president, at least to start, will be to clean up NIL and create as even a playing ground as possible for all teams. That creates one heck of an opportunity for Jim Boeheim/insert future head coach and company.
No, the program is not at the level of Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia. But yes, it’s still an ACC school, and one with a storied history. Texas A&M football has shown that booster money goes a long way toward recruiting (whether Nick Saban likes it or not). Money from Weitsman gives Syracuse a leg up, especially when you consider the star power he has brought to games. That tends to attract younger people, in this case, younger student-athletes. If SU brass does not utilize Weitsman to its fullest, it will regret it sourly.
Plain and simple, Emmert’s handling of NIL has been a joke. Baker entering the fold and having the knowledge of both sides makes life much easier for Weitsman to pledge that $1 million and perhaps more. Simply put, the NCAA’s change in leadership changes the game for SU recruiting, it’s up to the program (and Adam Weitsman) if it’s for better or for worse.