Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will take over as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association in March, the national college sports organization announced Thursday.
In announcing his hiring, the NCAA cited Baker's bipartisan leadership style, track record as the leader of Massachusetts as well as public and private organizations and his experience as an athlete at Harvard.
In a statement released while he was holding an event in East Boston, Baker called the appointment an honor and noted the impact it has nationwide.
"The NCAA is confronting complex and significant challenges, but I am excited to get to work as the awesome opportunity college athletics provides to so many students is more than worth the challenge. And for the fans that faithfully fill stadiums, stands and gyms from coast to coast, I am eager to ensure the competitions we all love to follow are there for generations to come. Over the coming months, I will begin working with student-athletes and NCAA members as we modernize college sports to suit today's world, while preserving its essential value," he said.
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Baker, one of the nation's most consistently popular governors, opted not to run for reelection this year. The moderate Republican faced a challenging fight to win his party's primary, and he didn't want to run as an independent.
Baker will be succeeded on Beacon Hill by Democrat Maura Healey, the commonwealth's current attorney general. Like Baker, she played basketball at Harvard.
Baker was selected after a national search, according to the NCAA. His consensus-building style and ability to innovate are remarkable, said Baylor University President Linda Livingstone, the chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and leader of the presidential search committee.
"As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience. These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics," she said in a statement.
Grant Hill, the former basketball star and NCAA Board of Governors member who also took part in the presidential search, also said Baker has demonstrated the necessary approach to lead the NCAA as both governor and the CEO of a private company.
"We know that to be successful, the NCAA president needs to possess the ability to balance competing priorities, inspire a shared vision, and create a broad sense of trust," he said.