“Being a university president is the hardest job in America,” National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert said Wednesday, prompting outrage online.
“In my 11 years, it has never been this difficult,” Emmert said during the Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. “The stakes have been raised in so many ways. When you have these moves, it disrupts a lot. That’s really problematic.”
Emmert, who served as Louisiana State University’s chancellor and as president of his alma mater, the University of Washington, earned a swift rebuke from news outlets and critics who considered his remark to be tone-deaf—especially considering the challenges essential workers have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Sports Illustrated noted. An SB Nation reporter created a list of more than 1,300 positions deemed more difficult than being a university president, including sculptors and video-game designers.
Others took to Twitter. Sports Illustrated reporter Ross Dellenger, wrote about jobs his family had: “One of my grandpas was a shrimp boat captain for 40 years. The other was a roofer. I’ll just leave that there.” And football writer Tyler James tweeted, “Doing PR for Mark Emmert seems like a harder job.”
Emmert also spoke at the forum about how relations between leagues and individuals are “worse today,” ESPN reported. He said he is hopeful that relations can be repaired, with developments around name, image and likeness rules and a new NCAA constitution.
“Working together on all these issues, including what we’re doing now to reconstitute that, especially the Division I structure, people have to set aside some personal anxieties and frustrations and look at the common interest of the enterprise,” Emmert said. “We’ll get there, but it’s going to take time.”