National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert was conferred an honorary doctoral degree by Daemen College during a recent visit to campus.
Emmert also conducted a discussion with Daemen’s NCAA Division II student-athletes—his first on-campus event since the pandemic began.
“The part of my job I enjoy the most is when I get to be around and talk to students,” Emmert told attendees. “I haven’t had a chance to do this since COVID-19 started, and I miss it.”
“He’s a true role model to our students and all of us,” said Daemen President Gary Olson, in awarding the honorary doctorate of humane letters.
The degree was awarded during a small ceremony in Rosary Hall that included Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa, East Coast Conference Commissioner Robert Dranoff, as well as Calspan owner and treasurer of the National Trust for the Humanities John Yurtchuk, who is also chair of the college’s Board of Trustees.
“As someone who has spent the vast majority of my life in higher education, this truly means a great deal,” said Emmert. “I appreciate this honor immensely.”
Olson has served on the NCAA Board of Governors—the highest governance body in the NCAA, which represents 19,500 teams and nearly 500,000 college athletes.
Olson has also served as chair and vice chair of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council, the body that helps set policy and the strategic direction for Division II colleges and universities nationwide.
On September 1, Olson became a member of the NCAA Board of Governors Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity.
During the town hall in Lumsden Gymnasium, Emmert answered questions posed by student-athletes on the history and purpose of the NCAA, mental health support for athletes, and the organization’s constitutional convention in November—which could result in the proposal of significant changes to the NCAA Constitution.
Emmert encouraged students to “take full advantage of what’s available at Daemen,” and to “find time to appreciate the really special moment you’re in right now. To the extent you can, smell the roses.”
The events marked Emmert’s second visit to the college’s Amherst campus; in 2017, Emmert delivered a lecture as part of the Daemen Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series.
In May 2021, Emmert served as Daemen’s commencement speaker, delivering his address virtually, at the college’s graduation ceremonies.
Prior to leading the NCAA, Emmert served as president of the University of Washington, his alma mater—becoming the first alum in nearly half a century to do so.
“Have great seasons,” he told student-athletes, “and stay safe.”