NCAA president Mark Emmert is backing down on comments he made against minor league sports. The remark that really got minor league baseball officials up in arms was when Emmert alleged that "minor league sports aren't successful either for fan support or for the fan experience."
On Tuesday, Emmert published a letter explaining that his comments were meant to have a more narrow focus. Here is what he said in part:
"For context, the O'Bannon case is focused on television rights and whether men's basketball and football student-athletes should be paid to play because their games are televised," Emmert wrote. "We strongly believe that the principles of amateurism prohibit payment. My responses at trial were intended to suggest [that] our nation's colleges and universities should not be used as minor league teams for professional men's basketball and football."
Last Thursday, Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner had this to say about Emmert's remarks:
"I don't believe his comments were made out of malice, but he did misspeak in a way that left a steaming pothole in the middle of our brand," O'Conner said. "People in this industry work too hard and are too well respected to let something like that go."
Minor League Baseball clubs as a whole have drawn more than 40 million fans to their games in each of the past nine seasons. Furthermore, 58 stadiums have been built for minor league teams since 2000, which represents the popularity is growing.
O'Conner hasn't spoken with Emmert personally regarding the matter. But it's reported that Emmert hopes to attend a minor league game this year at the request of O'Conner.