NCAA selects TurnkeyZRG to lead president search

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With the collegiate athletic regulatory organization undergoing rapid change, the recruiting firm’s willingness to commit time and staff to an extended discovery process was a key factor in landing the search assignment.

June 27, 2022 – The NCAA Board of Governors has selected TurnkeyZRG conduct its search for a new president. Mark Emmert will be stepping down as Chairman and will continue in the role until a new Chairman is selected and in place or until June 30, 2023. “We are honored to assist the Board of Directors of the NCAA in this important research,” said Len Perna, Chairman and CEO of TurnkeyZRG. “It’s not plug and play. Much listening and discovery with a wide range of stakeholders is needed to refine and perhaps redefine the role needed in our new world. We are strong supporters of intercollegiate athletics and were more than willing to put in the extra time and staff to make sure we got it right.

The NCAA is going through a period of rapid change. Issues such as name, image and likeness, payment for play, transfer portal, and many other changes have created a changing landscape in intercollegiate athletics. The NCAA serves many different members, of all sizes and levels of competition, in Divisions I, II and III.

The NCAA was looking for a research firm that could dedicate time and staff to an extensive “discovery” process to meet and listen to all of the different stakeholders across the full spectrum of intercollegiate athletics. TurnkeyZRG came up with a new concept of talking to 50 industry leaders outside of intercollegiate athletics, higher education, professional sports, media, technology, and even government relations, to research perceptions and ideas on how best to evolve the NCAA and its role.

“The Board of Governors wants to use the summer months in the most productive way possible to support the NCAA presidential transition before a new board is put in place,” said John J. DeGioia, Chairman of the Board of Governors. NCAA governors and president of Georgetown University. “To continue to maximize this time, the executive committee will ask the recruiting firm to start conversations with NCAA members about what they would like to see in a new NCAA president.”

TurnkeyZRG will begin with a listening phase where the company will meet with various governance committees, member groups and national office staff to gather their input on the position of NCAA President. This will allow the search to continue for new advice takes office on August 1.

The new board will appoint a search committee that will receive updates from TurnkeyZRG, lead any additional information gathering, and finalize the job description. The Board of Governors will make the final selection of a successful candidate based on the recommendations and feedback from the Selection Committee.

“With significant transitions underway within college sports, the timing of this decision provides the association with consistent leadership over the coming months, as well as an opportunity to reflect on the future role of the president,” Mr. FromGioia. “It also allows the next president to be selected and recruited without disruption.”

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-driven organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes. NCAA schools award nearly $3.5 billion in athletic scholarships each year and provide extensive support to help student-athletes graduate at a faster rate than their general student peers. NCAA National Office employees oversee all championships, administer programs that benefit student-athletes, and support member committees that establish rules and policies for college sports.

Serving sports, media and entertainment organizations

Founded in 1996, TurnkeyZRG is a talent and executive search firm specializing in C-level, upper-level and mid-level positions in sports, media and entertainment. Over the past 25 years, the firm has filled over 1,400 positions. TurnkeyZRG helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity firms and other clients identify , recruit and hire the best management talent.


TurnkeyZRG Helps Atlantic Coast Conference Find New Commissioner
TurnkeyZRG helped the Atlantic Coast Conference select James J. Phillips, the Combe family vice president for athletics and recreation at Northwestern University, as its next commissioner.

ACC conducted a comprehensive and inclusive research process nationwide, facilitated by TurnkeyZRG. The company spoke with ACC stakeholders to develop the job description and brought together a wide range of candidates from across sport, education, business and government.

“Jim is one of the most talented sports administrators in the country and is uniquely qualified to successfully and transparently take over the leadership of the ACC,” said ACC Chairman Kent Syverud. (Syracuse University). “Over nearly 13 years, Jim has elevated and cemented Northwestern’s position as an outstanding Power 5 athletics program. Northwestern’s rise in the world of intercollegiate athletics is a testament to the vision, leadership and Jim’s fundamental dedication to the success of student-athletes.The CCA is fortunate to have someone of Jim’s caliber and integrity leading the conference at this pivotal time in intercollegiate athletics.


Collectively, TurnkeyZRG consultants have placed coaches and athletic directors at numerous PAC-12 universities including Arizona, Cal, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, and Washington State.

Mr. Perna has over 30 years of experience in the sports and entertainment industry, with senior management experience in sales, marketing and event management, sponsorships, feasibility and development of sites, operation of facilities, licenses and legal affairs. Since founding Turnkey, Mr. Perna has managed more than 1,400 executive searches, according to the firm.

Recently called

The Big 12 Conference recently tapped TurnkeyZRG to lead its search for a new commissioner. The board is seeking to identify a diverse pool of experienced candidates from which to select the next Big 12 commissioner. The Commissioner’s role is to work in conjunction with the Board of Directors, ADs, FARs, SWAs, Student-Athletes, Alumni Affairs, etc. to help the conference collectively discern an innovative corporate structure for the future while maintaining the traditions and values ​​of the conference.

The search firm seeks candidates with a strong preference for individuals who have learned and mastered the rapidly changing business of sports, sports media, sports marketing and sports performance. Experience in intercollegiate sports is a plus.

Related: TurnkeyZRG seeks head baseball coach for Yale

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor; Dale M. Zupsansky, editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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