Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker becomes head of the NCAA

Posted on: Dec 15, 2022 at 2:03 am.

Last updated on: December 15, 2022 02:51 am.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is slated to become the next president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Massachusetts Charlie Baker NCAA Sports Book
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his State of the State address on January 25, 2022. Baker is leaving Boston in 2023 to head up the NCAA in Indianapolis. (Picture: Boston Herald)

Baker and current NCAA President Mark Emmert will soon be leaving their current jobs. Baker was not seeking a third term as Massachusetts governor, while Emmert announced earlier this year that he would step down effective March 1, 2023.

After a nationwide search, the NCAA Board of Governors selected Baker as the next president of the nonprofit organization that regulates student sports at 1,100 universities and colleges across the United States.

Governor Baker has demonstrated a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus by tackling complex challenges in innovative and effective ways.” said Baylor President Linda Livingstone, chair of the NCAA’s Presidential Search Committee. “These skills and perspectives will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of collegiate athletics.”

Baker’s appointment comes as the NCAA is fundamentally overhauling the way it operates.

In 2021, the NCAA agreed to allow student-athletes to benefit from their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). And it’s been nearly five years since legal collegiate gambling began to spread nationwide after the US Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that the legality of such gambling should be left to each state. Previously, the federal government’s Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) restricted sports betting to Nevada in its entirety.

Baker’s backstory, future

Baker has been the governor of Massachusetts since 2015. He will be replaced in early January by Democrat Maura Healey, who won the state’s gubernatorial election over Republican Geoff Diehl last month.

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Though Massachusetts doesn’t put a time limit on its governors, Baker decided to do something different. He found it with the NCAA.

“The NCAA faces complex and significant challenges, but I look forward to getting to work because the tremendous opportunity that collegiate athletics offers to so many students is more than worth the challenge,” Baker said in a statement . “And for the fans who faithfully fill stadiums, stands and gyms from coast to coast, I am committed to making sure the competitions we all love to watch are there for generations to come.”

“In the coming months, I will begin working with student athletes and NCAA members as we modernize collegiate sport to adapt it to today’s world while preserving its essential value,” added Baker.

During his eight years as governor, Baker’s administration oversaw the opening of each of the state’s three commercial casinos. Plainridge Park opened in June 2015 as a slots only casino. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor, two integrated casino resorts with slots and table games, opened in August 2018 and June 2019, respectively.

Baker’s predecessor – Democratic Governor Deval Patrick – was in office during the passage of the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011, which authorized up to four brick-and-mortar commercial casinos in the Commonwealth.

Sports betting supporters

Baker supported the recent legalization of sports betting in Massachusetts. Baker compared sports betting to cannabis because consumers of both industries participate regardless of their legal status, and supported regulatory efforts to protect bettors while generating new tax revenue.

[Sports betting is] a bit like marijuana. If you just leave the black market there, you won’t bring it out of the shadows.” Baker commented in June.

After months of legislative deadlock over regulatory details — most notably whether wagering on games involving state colleges would be allowed — the Massachusetts legislature sent Baker a compromise on sports betting in early August. The governor signed the statute a week later.

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Sports betting on site is expected to start next month. Online operations are expected to begin in March.