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Baker, a Republican who has been governor since January 2015 but will conclude his second term in January, will begin his new post on March 1. He played power forward for Harvard's basketball team during the 1977-78 season but has no previous collegiate administrative experience. He has spent most of his career in Massachusetts state government and a decade in health care administration. Baker, 66, holds degrees from both Harvard and Northwestern.

In April, Emmert announced he would be stepping down. He has led the NCAA since November 2010 and in April 2021 had his contract extended through 2025. Emmert will remain in an advisory role until June.

"We are excited to welcome Governor Charlie Baker to the NCAA and eager for him to begin his work with our organization," Linda Livingstone, Baylor University president and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors, said in a statement. "Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus, taking on complex challenges in innovative and effective ways. As a former student-athlete himself, husband to a former college gymnast, and father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience. These skills and perspective will be invaluable as we work with policymakers to build a sustainable model for the future of college athletics."

Livingstone led the presidential search along with six others, including former Duke standout basketball player Grant Hill, now co-owner of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.

Baker takes over a transitioning NCAA that in January ratified a new constitution, allowing each of its divisions greater authority to self-govern. The NCAA noted Baker's history of "successfully forging bipartisan solutions to complex problems" stood out to the search committee.

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