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NCAA president Mark Emmert was paid $2.7 million in 2018

Sam Cooper
·3-min read

NCAA president Mark Emmert was paid “just over $2.7 million” during the 2018 fiscal year, according to tax filings obtained by USA Today.

The sum, which includes a base salary of more than $2.3 million (a $200,000 increase, per USA Today), is a drop-off from the $3.9 million Emmert made in 2017. Emmert’s 2017 pay skyrocketed thanks to a one-time, $1.4 million deferred payment that was written into his contract, as reported by Yahoo Sports.

Emmert’s base salary has increased in each of the last three fiscal years, all while criticism of his tenure has continued. This year, though, Emmert and other NCAA staff members are taking pay cuts due to the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, it was reported that Emmert and members of his senior management team would take 20 percent pay cuts while NCAA vice presidents will see their pay cut by 10 percent. The salary reductions came on the heels of a substantial reduction in revenue distribution for the NCAA that came when winter and spring championships — the men’s basketball tournament, mainly — were canceled due to the pandemic.

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, NCAA President Mark Emmert testifies during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Power Five conferences spent $350,000 on lobbying in the first three months of 2020, more than they had previously spent in any full year, as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money. At the hearing in February, NCAA President Mark Emmert said Congress needs to put “guardrails” on athletes' ability to earn money, in part to protect against potential recruiting abuses and endorsement money being used as a pay-for-play scheme. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
NCAA president Mark Emmert made $2.7 million in the 2018 calendar year. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The NCAA initially projected it would distribute $600 million among its Division I membership, but that figure fell all the way to $225 million. At that point, the NCAA also began implementing various “cost-cutting budget measures” to weather the “financial challenges” for universities across the country.

“The national office is looking at every function to garner savings that could be used to support student-athletes in this uncertain economic time,” Emmert wrote in a memo distributed to NCAA membership.

"To that end, as a first step I have decided to reduce my salary and that of our nine other highest compensated leaders by 20% and the rest of my President’s Cabinet by 10%. This temporary reduction will free up needed resources and highlights our commitment to weather the current economic challenges we face while continuing to provide opportunities to college athletes."

Amid these challenging financial times for athletic departments, the Power Five conferences are still spending large sums of money in an effort to lobby Congress on legislation for name, image and likeness payments for college athletes.

In April, the NCAA took its biggest step yet toward allowing college athletes to be compensated for things like endorsement deals. All the while, reporting from the Associated Press revealed that the P5 conferences spent $350,000 in the first three months of 2020 alone “as part of a coordinated effort to influence Congress on legislation affecting the ability of college athletes to earn endorsement money.” The Power Five commissioners also wrote a letter to Congress asking for a federal law to regulate how college athletes can receive endorsement money.

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