Baker was more popular in his home state among Democrats and independents, and Jim Lyons, the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, suggested Baker chose not to run again because he was “shaken” by Trump’s endorsement of Geoff Diehl as the Republican nominee. Baker denied that was the case, and Maura Healey, a Democrat, handily defeated Diehl in November.
“I can state unequivocally that this was nowhere near my mind when I made the decision a year ago not to seek re-election,” Baker said Thursday.
Baker’s appointment marks the latest turn in the evolution of the N.C.A.A.
The first executive director of the N.C.A.A., Walter Byers, lorded over the organization for 38 years. He came to the job from a meager position: an assistant sports information director for the Big Ten.
He was succeeded by a series of career college sports administrators, often athletic directors, until 2002. Then, Myles Brand, a former president at Indiana University — where he had gained notoriety for firing the tempestuous but famed basketball coach Bob Knight — was hired at a time of rising tensions between academics and the increasingly big business of college sports.
The position under Brand morphed into the one now that functions more like a czar, driving policy decisions that are sometimes political — like pulling championship events from campuses whose mascots were deemed offensive to Native Americans — and dealing with the ambitions of the major conferences, which have increasingly wrested power from the N.C.A.A.
After Brand died of pancreatic cancer in 2009, his replacement was another university president. But while Emmert had polished his political skills in the world of academia, he was also immersed in college sports, having been the chancellor at Louisiana State, where he hired an up-and-coming football coach, Nick Saban, and the president of the University of Washington.
An early attempt to consolidate power backfired when the N.C.A.A. was forced to roll back severe penalties against Penn State, which included a $60 million fine, in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal involving the former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.