INDIANAPOLIS — The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) today announced that Charlie Baker, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, will serve as the next NCAA President, assuming the role effective March 2023. A former collegiate athlete at Harvard, Governor Baker is credited with bringing bipartisan leadership to the state, successfully guiding Massachusetts through an exceptionally turbulent period for government officials. In addition to his two terms as Governor, he brings decades of experience spearheading transformations at high profile institutions in the private and public sectors.
Governor Baker’s appointment marks the culmination of a comprehensive and inclusive national search process, led by a subcommittee of the NCAA Board of Governors and TurnkeyZRG, the top search firm in the space (which recently placed the commissioners of the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12). Baker’s term as Governor ends January 5, 2023.
“We are excited to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA and eager for him to begin his work with our organization,” said Linda Livingstone, President of Baylor University and Chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, who helmed the presidential search committee. “Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus, taking on complex challenges in innovative and effective ways. As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience. These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics.”
“We know that to be successful, the NCAA president needs to possess the ability to balance competing priorities, inspire a shared vision, and create a broad sense of trust,” said Grant Hill, an independent member of the NCAA Board of Governors and member of the presidential search committee. “As Governor of Massachusetts and a successful private sector CEO, Charlie Baker has demonstrated the type of results-oriented, bipartisan approach that we will need to bolster the well-being of student-athletes, realize the opportunities and overcome the challenges facing the NCAA.”
Governor Baker arrives at the NCAA at a moment of significant transformation. Legal shifts in the environment surrounding college sports have challenged the NCAA’s ability to serve as an effective national regulator for college athletics, resulting in an untenable patchwork of individual state laws. Partnering with federal policymakers to develop a consistent, sustainable legal framework to address issues common to student-athletes and athletic departments across the country will be a top and immediate priority. Throughout the search process, Governor Baker’s history of successfully forging bipartisan solutions to complex problems stood out to the search committee as uniquely suited to the NCAA’s present needs.
“I am honored to become the next president of the NCAA, an organization that impacts millions of families and countless communities across this country every day,” said Governor Baker. “The NCAA is confronting complex and significant challenges, but I am excited to get to work as the awesome opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is more than worth the challenge. And for the fans that faithfully fill stadiums, stands and gyms from coast to coast, I am eager to ensure the competitions we all love to follow are there for generations to come. Over the coming months, I will begin working with student-athletes and NCAA members as we modernize college sports to suit today’s world, while preserving its essential value.”
As the NCAA strives to enhance the experience of the more than 500,000 young people that compete in college sports each year, student-athletes’ input factored significantly in the development of the president’s job description.
“As a student-athlete representative on the search committee, I focused my conversations with Governor Baker around many of the issues that student-athletes face today,” said Isaiah Swann, a former baseball student-athlete at the University of Texas-Dallas and a current second year MD-PhD student at the University of Virginia. “Throughout our discussions, he not only demonstrated a command of the top issues confronting college sports but, more importantly, also displayed empathy, open-mindedness, and a desire to better understand and address student-athletes’ perspectives. The Baker family’s connection to collegiate athletics runs deep. He’s one of us. He thinks like a student-athlete and will lead us forward with our perspectives in mind.”
Prior to recruiting candidates, the search committee spent months identifying and assessing the qualities most needed in the organization’s next president, including input from more than 300 individual NCAA stakeholders.
Governor Baker succeeds Dr. Mark Emmert, a passionate leader and ambassador for college sports. Dr. Emmert will continue to serve the NCAA as a consultant through June 2023.
Governor Baker will be charged with building on the NCAA’s ongoing transformation efforts. In early 2022, the NCAA ratified a new constitution, assigning greater powers of self-governance to each of its three divisions, its dozens of athletic conferences, and its member schools. The NCAA also appointed committees in Divisions I, II, and III to implement the new consitiution at their respective levels, including a Division I Transformation Committee. The Division I Transformation Committee is now concluding its work putting forward a comprehensive series of recommendations to modernize Division I to better support today’s student-athletes.
The NCAA’s search committee consisted of:
- Linda Livingstone, president, Baylor University
- Mary-Beth Cooper, president, Springfield College
- Beth DeBauche, commissioner, Ohio Valley Conference
- Grant Hill, independent member, co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks
- Jere Morehead, president, University of Georgia
- Steven Shirley, president, Minot State University
- Isaiah Swann, former baseball student-athlete at the University of Texas at Dallas
About Governor Charlie Baker
Charlie Baker is currently the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A Republican Governor serving a predominantly Democratic state, Governor Baker was re-elected to a second term in 2018 with 67 percent of the vote. After eight years in office, he has achieved approval ratings exceeding 75 percent, making him the highest-rated governor in the United States and one of the highest-rated elected representatives in the nation. Governor Baker earned widespread support by taking on issues with significant real-world impacts, and approaching them in substantive, innovative, and bipartisan ways. Among his accomplishments during his two terms in office, Governor Baker has unleashed unprecedented investment into Massachusetts' K-12 education system, eliminated the state’s structural budget deficit while cutting taxes, and led the nation in securing renewable energy sources to respond to climate change. As Governor, Baker oversees a 43,000-member workforce and is responsible for a $50 billion annual budget.
Prior to his tenure as Governor, Charlie Baker had a distinguished career in both business, non-profit, and government administration. Immediately prior to being elected Governor, he served as Executive in Residence at General Catalyst Partners, where he served as an advisor to a variety of companies working on “Responsible Innovations”. In particular, he co-led the development and launch of Oscar Health, now a personalized health insurance company operating in several states with a $6B valuation.
Earlier in his career, Governor Baker served as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a non-profit health benefits provider. Under Governor Baker’s leadership, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care went from the verge of bankruptcy to 24 consecutive profitable quarters and a reputation as one of America’s top healthcare plans. Prior to this, Governor Baker served in a variety of leadership roles in Massachusetts state government, including as Secretary of Administration and Finance, and as Secretary of Health and Human Services. In that role, he led the state’s efforts to turn a billion-dollar budget deficit into a surplus and reform the K-12 education system which today leads the nation in student performance. Early in his career, Governor Baker ran a state policy think tank focused on innovations for improving health care.
Charlie Baker is a graduate of Harvard, where he was a member of the men’s varsity basketball team, and holds a Master’s of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is married to Lauren Baker, a former collegiate gymnast at Northwestern University, and father to three children (two of whom are former college athletes): Charlie, AJ, and Caroline.