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The Secret Sauce of America

L-R: Dr. Emmert and Steve Erhart. Photo by Isaac Singleton. 

On October 2nd, the Greater Memphis Chamber hosted NCAA President Dr. Mark Emmert at the University of Memphis’ Holiday Inn.  Dr. Emmert engaged in a stimulating “Conversation With” regarding the future of college sports with an impressive crowd.  Steve Erhart, executive director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, was moderator.

The Chamber put on a top-notch event.  An elegant dining room awaited participants and Rene Koopman set the tone with his piano while professionals caught up with one another.  Events like these are why Memphis is a big city with a small town feel. The crowd was a mix of professionals from C-level executives to small business owners and everyone was excited to be there.

L-R: Angie Hollins and Caprice Morgan. Photo by Isaac Singelton

Attendees wrote questions on note cards during lunch and as the conversation began to roll, it became apparent college sports are far from decline.  According to Dr. Emmert, student athletes have higher graduation rates than non-athletes at every NCAA college in America, regardless of socio-economic status.  That is a powerful statement!

Dr. Emmert continued to speak passionately about college sports, mentioning several post graduate scholarships and programs designed to help student athletes.  Training and games take up a lot of the student athletes’ time, so they miss out on work experience, study abroad programs, or student government activities.  Due to this sacrifice, Dr. Emmert believes they deserve ample support once they graduate from college. 

Attendees listening intently about new NCAA rules changing next year. Photo by Isaac Singleton.

Not only did the NCAA president point out the benefits of college sports, he talked about America’s unique blend of higher education and athletics. No other country offers the type of athletic programs to college students the way American universities do. He said, “Sports are a part of the secret sauce of America.  It’s what makes us Americans.”

Don’t forget to check out the Greater Memphis Chamber’s next “Conversation With” spotlighting David Sanger, the Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times.  He’ll be here Nov. 14th, a week after the presidential election to talk about the national economy and how that impacts Memphis. Find out more about the Chamber's "A Conversation With ... " Series here.

-- Samantha Garcia

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (