Mark Emmert, sitting president of the NCAA, is sitting on an unpaid, verbal debt of $49,000. That debt is now 10 years running, according to USA Today, which broke the story on Tuesday.
The newspaper is reporting that, in 2006, Emmert — then the president of his alma mater, the University of Washington — signed a pledge to donate $100,000 toward a scholarship named “Students First.” Emmert, who was named Washington’s president in 2004, became president of the NCAA in April 2010. He has, apparently, since dodged his vow.
Via USA Today:
Records obtained by USA TODAY Sports show $51,000 of the $100,000 pledge was paid by January 2010, but the rest of the pledge went unpaid after Emmert left UW, his alma mater, to become president of the NCAA later that year. Another person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the pledge was only half-paid, leading the university to endow the scholarship at half its planned amount.
Asked if he wanted to comment on the situation and if he planned to pay the rest of the pledge, Emmert issued a statement through a spokeswoman.
“Personal philanthropy is a private matter for individuals and their families,” Emmert’s statement said. “My family and I care greatly for the University of Washington and will continue to support it throughout our lives.”
It’s a lot of money for one person to donate, yes, but Emmert has held an annual salary well north of $1 million since taking over as the NCAA’s monarch six years ago.
The story came about, in some form, because of a Washington booster named Jay M. Glazer, who has decided to go public with his disdain for Emmert’s seemingly hypocritical stance. Glazer told USA Today’s Brent Schrotenboer: “If he’s going to tell 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds, that (they violated NCAA rules) because they signed an autograph or they took a supplement or they got a tattoo free, who is he to tell anybody if he doesn’t pay his own bills?”
USA Today did thorough digging on the issue here, even finding evidence of a letter sent to Emmert three years ago, in April 2013. The note was sent by Washington’s vice president, a reminder that he still had to pay up on his promise.
There’s also this, per USA Today‘s reporting: “A recent university report to contributors lists Emmert among many donors who gave at least $100,000 to the university, including Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. But the person knowledge of the situation said Emmert’s amount was based on his pledge, not the amount received.”
Emmert’s contract was extended through 2020 earlier this year. If he sees that contract through to the end, it’s likely he’ll have made at least $15 million in salary over the course of his 10 years as NCAA president.