Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: Even events in Indianapolis have the potential to impact the Inland Northwest

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz speaks at a ceremony in 2020 in Spokane.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The NCAA is in flux. Not just in what it does (and that might change even more) but in management. Which meant the Spokane (area) vortex kicked in.


• Mark Emmert, the former University of Washington president, announced earlier this week he was stepping down as the organization’s leader. Not that being the head of a giant bureaucracy that controls, in large part, college athletics is a job in high demand but his announcement did trigger speculation about a successor.

High on most everyone’s list, as it should be, was Kirk Schulz’s name. Washington State’s president is well known in college athletics, as throughout his career in university administration, he has been a proponent of the front-porch theory.

If you don’t know the premise, it postulates college athletes as the opening which draws in the public to any school. The front porch, so to speak, to the home of higher learning.

Whether it is true or not is always highly debated – is there anything related to higher education that isn’t? – but that’s immaterial here. What is important is Schulz is an acolyte of athletics as part of a well-rounded college experience. And he’s willing to spread the gospel. That’s part of what makes him seemingly perfect for the high-profile position.

That he’s also served in key roles in two of the Power Five conferences, the Pac-12 and, when he was president of Kansas State, the Big 12, also turns up the speculation.

Schulz, for his part, is having none of it. He made it clear, quickly, he’s not interested. And why should he be?

The job is a reputation killer. Running an organization like the NCAA is akin to sitting in a dunk tank. You’re paid well to sit there, sure, but basically your job is to absorb shots every few days for policies the schools themselves approve. And then complain about unceasingly.

Yesterday Schulz went on Twitter and professed his affection for his current job.

“I remain fully committed to my position as system president at Washington State University,” he wrote. “I am not interested in being considered as the next NCAA president. My support will continue to be with Mark Emmert as he finishes his time with the NCAA and I look forward to working with his eventual successor.”

That seems pretty definitive.

• We didn’t get the opportunity to watch the Sounders’ match in Mexico City on Wednesday night, but we followed along on the ESPN app and Twitter.

It was fun in a perverse way.

The app supplied the nuts and bolts of the action. Twitter? Angst, anger and, at the end, hallelujahs.

Seattle, playing Pumas in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final, fell behind 1-0 on a penalty call Sounders’ Twitter equated to something Angel Hernandez would call against the M’s about every other pitcher. Yes, it was that bad.

Midway through the second half, with Seattle trailing 2-0, there seemed to be resignation the end was near. Then it wasn’t.

What seemed to be a homer match turned on two late penalties against the host Puma team and, with Nicolas Lodeiro converting both, Seattle flew home even.

And Sounders fans throughout the Northwest were trying to figure how to get into Century Link next Wednesday night.


WSU: The Schulz declaration earned a story in the S-R this morning from higher education reporter Greg Mason. … On the sports side of things, Colton Clark covered the women’s basketball team signing a Finnish player and wrote about former Cougar quarterback Anthony Gordon once again signing a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college football, here’s another reason why few would want to be the NCAA president these days. … Washington will have to replace two NFL-bound cornerbacks. … Stanford has to replace its lost identity, which seems even harder. … With the NFL draft beginning tonight, every school from Arizona State to USC to UCLA to Oregon expects to see players picked. … Oregon State is losing a linebacker. … The Oregon trial continues. … In basketball news, Arizona State has two brothers coming in that should help a lot. … Colorado has to wait on Jabari Walker’s NBA decision before it can move forward. … Arizona is losing a freshman guard. Everyone expects Shane Nowell to end up at UW. … Oregon has lost a lot, including a player who did end up at Washington. … Oregon State may have found its point guard in the portal.

Gonzaga: Every one of GU’s starters have declared for the NBA draft. The last one, Rasir Bolton, told everyone Tuesday, a development which allows Theo Lawson to recap the starters’ postseason plans. … As for next year, Theo has a story on Braden Huff, the lone incoming freshman.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, Montana State has lost another offensive lineman to the portal.

Preps: Thirty years ago the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick came from the West Plains. Cheney High’s Steve Emtman, who had just led Washington to a share of the national title, earned that distinction. David Oriard has this look back at that fateful draft. … Dave Nichols not only has a roundup of Wednesday’s action, he also has a notebook that shares some news nuggets.

Indians: Dave returns with a story on Spokane’s second consecutive win at Everett.

Mariners: Marco Gonzales couldn’t get out of the way of a first-inning liner. That meant the M’s couldn’t get out of the way of Tampa Bay’s offense as they lost 3-2 without the Gonzaga product on the mound. … Kris Negron enjoyed his time filling in for Scott Servais. … Paul Sewald is back.

Seahawks: Will the Hawks answer the phone and trade the ninth pick? Or will they fill needs?

Storm: It is hard for even high draft picks to make a roster as stacked as Seattle’s.

Kraken: The Kings invaded Seattle and picked up a needed win.


• It isn’t easy doing this column at times. Today was one of them, as we were tasked with watching Donut alone. He snuck off one time and ended up in my father-in-law’s library. Up to no good? Probably. Which is perfect. My father-in-law wasn’t above a good prank now and again. And why not? He was a firefighter. And the most loving man we’ve met. On a list of men we’ve met, he would be No. 1 among those we admire most. We lost him years ago to cancer but his memory still guides us. Someday we hope to be as good a person as he was. Until later …