Down wide, carpeted hallways and in and out of meeting rooms, new President Mark Emmert moved through the NCAA's annual convention in San Antonio last week with an entourage that spoke to a reality of modern sports.
Beside him walked university presidents, key athletics administrators and, most always, a couple of stockily built guys in suits and earpieces who looked exactly like what they were.
The detail wasn't new, says Bob Williams, the NCAA's vice president of communications. But the necessity was underscored by loud, often angry and occasionally alarming reactions to a series of recent rulings — stiff sanctions against Southern California's football program, clearance for Auburn quarterback Cam Newton to finish the season despite his father's involvement in a pay-for-play scheme, a suspension of five Ohio State football players delayed to next season to allow them on the field for the Sugar Bowl, a declaration that Kentucky basketball recruit Enes Kanter is permanently ineligible.
Via phone and e-mail, blogs and social networks, Kentucky followers have been particularly outspoken, flooding Emmert's Facebook page with so much vitriol that the NCAA was compelled to block posts by outsiders. Without specifying the source or subject, Williams says he got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago warning, "You'd better check your car."