How will Emmert's move affect UW football?

SEATTLE - Washington President Mark Emmert was named the new President of the NCAA Tuesday, assuming his duties at the beginning of November. He takes over the position from the late Myles Brand, who passed away last September after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

While at Montlake, he has been witness to national championships in the area of athletics, but he's also seen the football program hit rock-bottom and the plans for renovating Husky Stadium stay stuck in the mud.

In a roundabout way, if Emmert was to leave Washington, the timing of his announcement couldn't have come at a better time if you are a UW football fan. The program has been buoyed by Steve Sarkisian, and Jake Locker's Heisman challenge coincides with more coast-to-coast coverage for the program than it has seen in years - culminating with an ESPN nationally-televised game against UCLA that will also be Locker's senior night.

So even though the Huskies were 17-54 while Emmert was in charge, things were actually looking up. Emmert's hand-picked athletic director, Scott Woodward, had his unconditional support. And that filtered down to Sarkisian, now in his second year at UW.

"You always have a vision of how you want things to get done and to get accomplished, and from President Emmert through Scott Woodward, it's always been about doing things the right way and doing things the way they should get done, but allowing me to do it with the style and the fashion that we want to be able to do it," Sarkisian said after Tuesday's practice. "And I'm very grateful to them for that."

But all that could change now that Emmert is no longer around. For his part, Woodward isn't concerned.

"When you show people that sports has a clear role at the University of Washington…and it is a role, it's a limited role - that it's an integral part of the mission of the institution and you do it right, I think you have great and strong support that is campus-wide," he said Tuesday while fielding questions over Emmert's sudden bolt to Indianapolis.

Woodward also stressed that the timing of this announcement would not set back any momentum that might come out of a planned Husky Stadium Advisory Committee meeting later this week. For the last couple of years, the school has not been able to gather the support of the state legislature to allow them the right to seek a portion of the King County hotel-motel tax that has funded other sports facilities like the Kingdome and Safeco Field.

"The leadership at the University has been supportive and has been included in the Husky Stadium process the whole way, whether it be the Board of Regents or the Provost's office or anyone involved," Woodward said of the project to renovate the 90-year old stadium. "This is a campus-wide effort that a lot of people are involved in."

Speculation will almost certainly come back to Woodward, who was Emmert's right-hand man at LSU and also at Montlake before becoming the Huskies' Athletic Director. In the arena of academia, Woodward has always been closely aligned with Emmert. Woodward dismissed any rumors that his stay at UW might be a short one now that Emmert is gone.

"I love being here," he said, matter-of-factly. "I'm the Athletic Director and love what I do and plan on being here a long time."


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