Working for the NCAA drains 20 points from your IQ.

I worked for part of my career in the Personal Systems group at Microsoft. The Personal Systems group was full of great people, was a very successful business (MSDOS and Windows 3.x/95), and there was just a great vibe in the organization. I think I had a decent reputation as a manager and peer, but as they say “a rising tide lifts all boats”, and it was easy to seem smart and effective when I was part of a great team and business.

In early ’98 (I think), I moved over to the MSN group, Microsoft’s first major foray into online services. The joke inside Microsoft was that “moving into the MSN group caused 20 points of IQ to evaporate”, and I fared no better than anyone else. The group was dysfunctional, there were too many people without great product shipping experience, the strategy was unclear, the whole thing was just a cesspool. Ultimately I left Microsoft in large part due to my experience in this group — there was no coherent view of what the strategy should be (at every level of the company), and I was going to have spend years moving people out of the organization, which was not a challenge I wanted to take on.

I’ve been reading all the negative press around the “NCAA and Emmert”: this week. The mishandling of the Miami case, Pete’s broadside against the NCAA, stupid amateurism decisions, etc. A lot of finger pointing at Emmert and calls for a change in leadership.

I have no idea if Emmert is a great guy or not, but he is in a broken system. The entire premise of the NCAA is wrong. Billions of dollars sloshing around in the system, flowing to the institutions and media companies and adults, and just a dribble flowing to the athletes. The system is doomed to failure, there is going to be leakage everywhere. As long as Emmert tries to maintain the system, he is going to look like an incompetent. If he really cares about the student athletes, he’d be wise to step outside the system and attack it.