If the NCAA office in Indianapolis were to put out one of those "How It Started; How It's Going" posts on Instagram, it would be pretty revealing of where we are. My sense is, taking things to the extreme to make a point, the left side of the post would look like the Titanic leaving the harbor with Mark Emmert at the helm, while the right side would be the ship just as it hit the iceberg, while Emmert signed a contract extension for the next voyage. The only difference between the NCAA and the Titanic in this analogy is that the NCAA knew the iceberg was there, but stayed on course to hit it because the iceberg was in front of the bank holding the NCAA's billions in revenue. Mission accomplished.
This summer has seen the NCAA's influence and role lessened, and real questions are being asked about the NCAA's very existence and viability going forward. There are many reasons for the NCAA's current, wounded posture. There's over a decade of incompetent leadership, effective legal challenges to NCAA policies, the NCAA's miscalculation of those legal challenges, legislative efforts by different states across the country to force change to NCAA policy, an intentionally slow moving bureaucracy and the NCAA's hubris and stupidity. Yet, while all of that was happening, the money continued to roll in for the NCAA membership, which was the main reason the above intolerable factors were tolerated.
Yet, for all of the handwringing over its continued existence, the NCAA is not going anywhere. It will still exist and play an important role. However, it's clear the NCAA's role in college sports will be diminished. Think of it this way: The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) was once the most powerful athletic organization on the planet. Now, it runs sports programs and athletic events. It is still here, but it is no longer the dominant, "my way or the highway" organization. That is where the NCAA seems headed and, some might argue, it is headed there due to its intentional and purposeful decisions over the past four decades.
How the NCAA Got Here
People think this is the time of the greatest change in NCAA history. It is not. 1984 was the time of the greatest change, and the change that occurred after 1984 was monumental, dwarfing the current climate.
The NCAA is an athletic association with more than 1,000 member schools in more than 100 different conferences. The overwhelming majority of NCAA members have little in common, except the agreement to band together to make policies, rules and regulations to govern the industry of college sports.
And the NCAA is a serial violator of federal antitrust law.