Here Are The Three Things New NCAA President Charlie Baker Needs To Put All His Energy Into Fixing

There are three things that new NCAA president Charlie Baker needs to be laser focused on. Let’s talk about them. 

Charlie Baker replaces Mark Emmert, a University of Washington alum that spent 13 years setting money on fire and ineffectively fighting the cultural tide. I’m not saying that being a University of Washington alum is the reason Mark Emmert was such a horrible president. I’m just saying that he went there… and happened to be a horrible president.

We don’t need to re-litigate the sins of Mark Emmert. At this point, we need solutions. Is Charlie Baker ready to meet the moment, or will he be another empty suit whose presence you only notice when he’s standing in the way of common sense progress?

Only time will tell, but for right now, let’s get into the three things Baker needs to make a priority right out of the gate.

First, Charlie Baker needs to work with the major conference presidents to stabilize them. The Pac-12 is on the brink of collapse, the ACC is headed for major defections, and the Big 12 seems to be egging on the demise of everyone just to paint itself as comparatively stable, even though they just lost their two biggest draws in Texas and Oklahoma. In the mean time, you have an escalating arms race between the SEC and the Big Ten that is being egged on by television network partners.

Charlie Baker isn’t going to be able to reign in the cancerous grow-or-die mindset that is fueling these divisions, but he certainly should have the pull to bring the conference commissioners together to outline a Marvel-style multi-phased vision for the future of the NCAA. If the group has common goals to work toward together, or course they’ll always default to their own self interest, but at least they’ll be expending energy on common goals as well. 

Second, the transfer portal is a mess and Baker needs to institute some emergency measures to help figure it out. There are common sense solutions that have been floated ever since it was evident that the transfer portal was turning into a kitchen junk drawer, where things go in but never come out, and it’s time to explore putting those solutions into place. 

They had a good start with allowing teams to go above the 25-scholarship limit per class this year, but they can and should do more.

Just this week, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy floated the idea of high school athletes signing time-specific contracts. So a five star recruit has the ability to come in on a one-year deal for a scholarship, while a three-star project player can sign a four-year scholarship deal that empowers the athlete to be able to stay even if the coaching staff wants to push them into the portal. 

Other athlete-friendly possible solutions include ditching signing day, so that an athlete can sign with a school whenever they are ready, instead of feeling pressured to fill in a spot at a school that might not be the best fit for them based on an arbitrary deadline. This would end the ridiculous practice of uncommittable offers. 

The NCAA also has the ability to institute and allow a longevity stipend that would monetarily reward players for spending 3-4 years in one place and earning a degree. 

The third thing that Charlie Baker needs to get figured out is a national plan to institute Name, Image and Likeness guidelines that allow players to capitalize on themselves the same way that their schools capitalize on them. It’s not Baker’s fault that the NCAA spent millions and millions of dollars trying to block NIL instead of shape it, but this is his problem now. And yes, I get that Baker is beholden to the institutions themselves, and not necessarily the athletes, but those things don’t have to be in opposition. They both need each other. 

If schools are worried about losing corporate sponsorship dollars directly to the athletes, get the schools on board with directing 10% of any program sponsorship dollar directly to an NIL fund that pays out evenly to all members of that sport. If schools are worried about different states having different laws, work with a coalition of people that represent the interest of all parties involved to hand over completed legislation to the representative of your choice to sponsor. 

Don’t let an 82-year-old senator that longs for the days of leather helmets or underhand free throws write a bill. 

Charlie Baker has a lot on his plate, but as long as he stays sharp on protecting the welfare of student athletes so that we never have another Larry Nassar or Jerry Sandusky harming people over a prolonged period of time, the actual things he needs to accomplish to be considered a success are fairly simple. 

Stabilize the major conferences. Address the issues that have caused the transfer portal traffic jam. Guide the country’s NIL strategy in a way that is mutually beneficial for the athletes and schools alike. 

If Charlie Baker can do those three things, he’ll be as good as Mark Emmert was bad. 

Let that sink in.

Don’t Listen to the Noise- Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark’s Beef is Good for Women’s Basketball

We need to talk about whether or not you all collectively have the balls to enjoy women’s basketball. Instead of enjoying a moment that was great for sports and Womens basketball we end up talking about race and bad takes about Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese.

In case you weren’t one of the ten million people watching LSU beat Iowa for the 2023 women’s national championship, or one of the 20 million people with a hot take on Angel Reese taunting Caitlin Clark in the game’s closing moments, here’s the background:

LSU and their controversial and wild dressing coach, Kim Mulkey, overcame a weak non-conference schedule and an early SEC tournament exit to power through the NCAA tournament as a 3-seed on their way to the championship game.

On the other side, you have one of the best young female shooters of all time in Caitlin Clark, who led Iowa to a 2-seed and a stunning upset of South Carolina in the Final Four. 

Caitlin Clark is as good of a trash talker as she is a player. She was praised for waving off South Carolina’s Raven Johnson, who was wide open at the three point line, during Iowa’s Final Four win. And cameras caught her telling Kobe Bryant  protégé and Louisville star Hailey Van Lith to “shut up” during Iowa’s elite 8 win. Plus, there’s the whole John Cena “You can’t see me” celebration she does to show up opponents.

That brings us to LSU sophomore forward Angel Reese, who did Clark’s signature celebration repeatedly at the end of the national championship game, as well as pointed to her ring finger.

People were mad as hell

But about what? These are elite level players, and like it or not, trash talk is part of the game. 

How did we get to the point where the people that used to say “kitchen” to anyone who praised the entertainment value of women’s basketball, decided that not only do they like women’s basketball, but that they needed to adopt the game’s best long range assassin as their personal damsel in distress?

Caitlin Clark addressed the situation on Outside The Lines and said she respects Angel Reese and doesn’t think she should be criticized at all. So if she isn’t upset why should you be?

How are black folks supposed to feel about the disproportionate response to Angel Reese’s behavior? Or how should anybody with common sense feel for that matter?

It feels eerily similar to the reactions that call Tom Brady a fiery competitor when he breaks a tablet or cusses out a teammate, but Odell Beckham Jr. punches a kicking net, and he’s a cancer.

Angel Reese’s actions are no different than Baker Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag, Dikembe Mutumbo wagging his finger after a block, or Reggie Miller doing the choke symbol vs the Knicks. Are those the most gentle and “sportsmanship-filled” moments in the world? Nope. But sports involve emotion and trash talk. When you talk trash you don’t get to determine how it comes back.

This tournament generated so much buzz that there are no losers! Well, except for the folks like Dave Portnoy who decided to defend the setback of his great white hope by calling Angel Reese a piece of shit, and admitted basketball ignoramus Keith Olbermann, who called Reese a moron. It’s fair to call them losers.

These women don’t need you, or anyone, to defend them. They need you to remember how much fun this tournament was, and they need to schedule a non-conference tournament with Louisville, LSU, Iowa, Miami, and South Carolina.

I’m hyped right now thinking about how mad Caitlin Clark is going to be all offseason. I can’t wait to see what Angel Reese does with the attention she garnered. And you know Dawn Staley and South Carolina are sitting at home thinking bad thoughts about what they’re going to do to everyone else next year because their perfect record and chance to repeat got ruined. 

Women’s basketball is having a moment. And maybe part of that moment is the sport being subjected to the same hot take idiocy that surrounds all of America’s other favorite pastimes, but it would be great if we didn’t ruin a good thing before it has a chance to become great. 

Let that sink in.

No, Michael Jordan Selling the Hornets Not A Strike Against His Legacy

Jordan hornets

We need to talk about how selling his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets affects Michael Jordan’s legacy. 

Long story short, it doesn’t affect a damn thing.

If you don’t have time for this, I get it. I’m taking time out of my day for both of us to add cement to a legacy that’s already made of a hundred million tons of stone.

But last week, Colin Cowherd responded to the news that Michael Jordan is offloading his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets to Gamestop short-squeeze victim Gabe Plotkin and Atlanta Hawks minority owner Rick Schnall.

And you might want to buckle up for this scorching hot take. 

Cowherd said that Michael Jordan’s mythology as the most unassailably great basketball player of all time crumbles without Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, because he failed as a baseball player, failed with the Washington Wizards, and has now failed to turn the Charlotte Hornets into a winning franchise before cashing out. 


First of all, the “if a thing didn’t happen, it never would have happened” argument is both always true and never true. Of course if things were different they would be different. But they’re not. 

Second, on what planet does Michael Jordan having a relatively respectable run as a double-A right fielder at 31-years old after 13 years away from the game constitute a mark against his legacy of greatness on the basketball court? Baseball is an insanely hard sport. There were six other players on the 1994 Birmingham Barons that hit under .240 on the season, and half of them were major leaguers at some point. 

Third, no the Wizards didn’t win a championship with Michael Jordan as a 37-year old first year general manager. But do you know what they did do when a 38-year old Michael Jordan that had been retired for three years stepped onto the court and replaced hall of fame shooting guard Mitch Richmond? 

The Wizards almost doubled their win total. That’s a wild accomplishment that doesn’t get talked about enough. And it’s only a failure if your only measurement for success is perfection. 

Last, the idea that someone could quintuple a quarter of a billion dollar investment in less than 15 years is insane. The only thing more insane would be to call that return on investment a failure.

The Charlotte Hornets not being a good basketball team has nothing to do with Michael Jordan, and everything to do with the fact that the Hornets have been stuck in mid-lottery hell while being a medium market team. 

The only way to get good in the NBA is to either exist in a major market as a major free agent or trade destination, or hit the lottery jackpot with a can’t miss player. The third way- the rarest of all the ways, is to be a mid-market team that takes a risk on a guy from overseas and has it pay off, like Denver with Nikola Jokic or Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Charlotte has had one pick inside the top 9 in the last nine years. And that was LaMelo Ball. Are we really calling Michael Jordan a failure because he earned a cool billion dollars while spending the majority of the last decade on the wrong end of lottery ball bounces?

My kids are athletes, and I always make sure to tell them that as Teddy Roosevelt said, as the man or woman in the arena, “It is not the critic who counts.”

And as Rudyard Kipling wrote, If you can be lied about, without dealing in lies, or be hated, without giving way to hating…  yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”

When we attempt to define success and failure in multiple arenas in which we’ve never possessed the talent nor opportunity to even begin to compete, especially when what we call failures aren’t failures at all- that’s what creates what Teddy Roosevelt called a “cold and timid soul”

Let that sink in.