NCAA President Mark Emmert visited California State University, Northridge on Wednesday, April 12, experiencing CSUN’s commitment to student success across the university, its rising Matador Athletics programs and how CSUN is using athletics as a tool for engagement.
As part of the visit, Emmert highlighted how college sports serve as a pathway to opportunity through a focus on academics, student-athlete well-being and fairness. Emmert organized the trip to CSUN in part due to CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison’s service to the NCAA.
“We are extremely privileged to have President Emmert at CSUN and to have him experience our student-athlete success firsthand,” said Harrison, who serves on the NCAA’s Board of Governors and the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. “Not long after he became president of the NCAA, I became president of CSUN and identified using athletics as a tool for engagement as one of the university’s eight key priorities. Athletics not only teaches values and life skills to our student-athletes, but it also builds community for all students and connects our alumni and supporters to CSUN.”
During his visit, Emmert met with Matador student-athletes and coaches, as well as the Matador Achievement Center staff who support student-athlete academic success. Following a tour of campus, he stopped at CSUN’s Extended University Commons to discuss the NCAA’s values and initiatives and meet members of the campus community.
“It was a pleasure to visit CSUN for the first time after working with President Harrison for years,” Emmert said. “I saw so many examples of how her leadership has enhanced the environment for student-athletes to succeed in competition and in the classroom. CSUN’s efforts are aligned with the goals and efforts of the NCAA, as we work collectively to prepare college athletes for life.”
In addition to meeting with coaches and student-athletes, Emmert had a lunch discussion with Matador Athletics leadership on The Blacktop at The Matadome, home to CSUN’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Volleyball.
“It’s been an honor to host President Emmert on campus today and have the opportunity to showcase our student-athletes, coaches and facilities,” said CSUN Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brandon Martin. “The overall well-being of Matador student-athletes is central to our goal of comprehensive excellence. At CSUN, we prioritize the holistic development of our student-athletes — just like the NCAA is doing with the pathway to opportunity. I am proud of our hard work, and President Emmert’s visit to CSUN is evidence that Matadors can and will continue to rise.”
During the afternoon, Emmert watched two teams — one emblematic of the university’s evolving athletics landscape and one symbolic of CSUN’s rich history — practice. First up was beach volleyball, the university’s 19th intercollegiate sport, which debuted in 2014. Afterward, he stopped at Matador Field to catch part of a baseball practice, viewing a program that got its start in 1959. Matador baseball players presented Emmert with a jersey in recognition of his visit.
“He sees coaching from a different perspective,” said CSUN head coach Greg Moore, who was recently announced as a winner of the National Consortium of Academics in Sports’ prestigious Giant Steps Award. “He’s the head of an association that oversees not only the athletes and the coaches, but the whole environment. Someone who sits in that seat has so much valuable insight on what’s effective and what’s not.”
Other stops on the campus tour focused on resources that support student academic success and personal well-being. Emmert stopped at the award-winning 138,000-square-foot Student Recreation Center. He was also introduced to the Learning Commons at the Oviatt Library, where students utilize CSUN’s abundant tools and technology in a collaborative environment. Lastly, Emmert visited the Matador Achievement Center, which was supported by two NCAA grants.
“I was honored to be a part of the visit, especially since I’m about to graduate, and I won’t get this opportunity again,” said senior track and field student-athlete Monique Griffiths, who is Co-President of the CSUN Student-Athlete Advisory Council and the Matador record-holder in the hammer throw. “He’s a great speaker — very down to earth — and answered a lot of our questions. He told us exactly what things were like behind the scenes.”
Emmert’s visit to CSUN comes on the heels of Matador Athletics’ 35th annual Varsity N Scholar-Athlete Awards, which took place April 11 and recognized the academic achievements of 79 student-athletes.