He will succeed Mark Emmert on March 1
This is only slightly less shocking that Charlie Baker running the NAACP. He doesn’t have a background in academia or athletics, other than his experience as a student. I might have more takeaways as the sinks in, but it certainly tells me that the NCAA’s challenges are expected to be more legal/political than administrative over the next decade plus.
My first job out of college was working in the Massachusetts state legislature, first for a Democrat in the house and then for a Republican in the senate. In my capacity as a legislative aide who worked on health care stuff and later became the person who coordinated our legislative strategy, I got to meet Baker many many times. Initially it was in his role as the secretary of administration and finance in the weld administration. Later it was in his role at Harvard Pilgrim. Let me just say this, Charlie Baker just might be the smartest human being i have met in my entire life. He is a policy wonk, a strategic thinker, a master planner, and somewhat of a visionary in some areas of public and private life. I don't say this lightly at all. He had a command of everything that could possibly come up in a conversation. It did not surprise me at all the success he had moving from health and human services to the secretary of administration and finance to Harvard Pilgrim, etc etc. He is like someone you could bring in to your work from an entirely different field and he would do his job better than the person who had been there 20 years and was the MVP previously. I honestly have not been as impressed with the clarity of thought, the overall smartness of any human being more than Baker in my life. The only person who was close to him in that regard was Robert art, who is my graduate school mentor. However, art was only successful in academia and a narrow policy sense. Baker carried this to everything. Not a huge fanboy of his politics. Lived in Massachusetts for years and have never voted for him or donated money to his cause, but I guarantee he is probably the smartest guy to ever hold that job (NCAA)and a master at improving organizational culture, working with all levels of an organization to improve outcomes, and he also showed a real flair for innovation and is time in think tanks, government, the private sector, etc. In fact I would say he is about as far from a natural politician as one can find, except he also was smart enough and good enough to also be elected to two terms.