NCAA President Mark Emmert appeared on ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show Friday morning, ostensibly to help clean up some of the comments he's made about college unionization over the past month.
The highlight (lowlight?) of the interview was Emmert's response to Northwestern University football players, who were recently deemed employees of the school by the National Labor Relations Board, according to Brian Bennett of ESPN.com.
In Emmert's own words:
On discussing the new change to the NCAA's food policy, whereby players can now enjoy free meals without restriction, Emmert also had a flippant reply to Connecticut basketball player Shabazz Napier, who claimed there were some hungry nights were he "goes to bed starving," per Darren Rovell of ESPN.com:
Interviews like these do not endear Emmert to the public, which is troubling because, in that respect, he is digging himself out of a perpetual hole. Perhaps, as Bill Connelly of SB Nation suggests, we've reached the point where he should stop granting interview requests altogether:
Ridiculous as those two comments were, the rest of Emmert's morning didn't go so well either. Mike & Mike prompted viewers to tweet questions for the president with the hashtag #AskEmmert, but the exercise predictably devolved into ridicule (h/t Deadspin):
Is this the last time we'll see Emmert give a candid interview? No, but it might be his farewell for a while.
Taking him off-book like this has only made the situation worse for the NCAA. However, with so much change appearing to be imminent in college athletics, now is not an ideal time for the face of the organization to disappear.
Regardless of how the NCAA manages Emmert's availability in the coming months, it's clear that the man has a difficult job. He is the public face of a disliked organization, and his duty to placate the gluttonous college presidents makes him an easy target of scorn. Because of his position, he's the easiest and most convenient NCAA figurehead to attack.
But, hey. You have to earn that $1.7 million somehow.
Note: You can listen to the full, 26-minute interview here.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT