HOUSTON – Intercollegiate athletics is an extraordinarily valuable enterprise that needs to be protected – and that protection includes making sure penalties serve as a useful deterrent, NCAA President Mark Emmert said during his annual press conference as part of the finals of the men’s Division I basketball tournament.

“When we have people that don't want to conduct themselves consistent with the integrity of these games, we need to be ready to deal with that appropriately,” Emmert said. “We cannot have coaches, administrators, parents or student-athletes sitting out there deciding, 'Is this worth the risk? If I conduct myself in this fashion, and if I get caught, it's still worth the risk.'  We don't want those kind of cost benefit analyses going on.”

Emmert said there needed to be more discussion within the NCAA to determine the next steps.

“If our penalties and processes aren't providing sufficient deterrents, then I need to sit down with the board of Division I and others and fix that and make sure that our penalty structure and our enforcement processes serve as a deterrent so people conduct themselves with integrity and forthrightness,” Emmert said.

Emmert emphasized that the integrity is paramount to college sports.

“The single biggest concern that I have among the threats to the collegiate model is simply the threat of integrity,” he said. “I've heard concerns expressed by people all around the country about the integrity of intercollegiate athletics right now, that people are seeing things that they don't like and that I don't like and that many people are concerned about.”

Emmert vowed to be persistent and vocal.

“When it comes to issues of integrity of intercollegiate athletics, what I can first and foremost do and will do is be doggedly persistent, constantly raising those issues, working with our leadership groups to improve on it,” he said. 

Emmert said he is determined that the public realizes the vast majority of student-athletes and athletic programs are doing things the right way.

“There are too many great people in this enterprise, there are too many student athletes who do so many good things to have their reputations besmirched by the tiny fraction that don't,” he said 

Emmert also spent time talking about academics, an area where recent success has been “remarkable.” He also said there were three areas that needed attention moving forward:

“We need to make sure that we're attentive to initial eligibility, something we're going to be spending more time on, whether or not we have the right kind of requirements for men and women to come into intercollegiate athletics and compete in our games.

“We need to spend more time on the junior college transfer issues, the 2-4 transfer issues, because we know that's where we have significant problems with the success rates academically.

“We need to look at the APR. I think it's been a wild success, but it's not producing the kind of graduation rates we really want. We need to decide whether we need to re-center it, adjust it in some fashion. But we need to make sure that having successful APRs leads to what we really want, and that's graduation of our students at the end of that process.”