A valued leader is gone from the University of Washington – a loss felt by many campus-wide.
Mark A. Emmert, a Fife native, returned to his alma mater with the Huskies in 2004 as the university president.
On Tuesday – two months shy of what would be his six-year anniversary at the UW – he was named the new leader for the NCAA, replacing the late Myles Brand, who died in September.
Emmert has a wealth of administrative experience, both nationally and internationally. He's been a member of local educational boards, but his experience has spanned to committees nationwide as well, including on an NCAA sub-committee focused on fiscal responsibility.
"They're getting a dynamic leader who has done an incredible job every step of the way in his whole career in higher education as a leader and as an administrator," UW athletic director Scott Woodward said. "He will mix things up and he will do things that they will be very happy and proud of for a long time."
The one snarl has been for all UW officials, including Emmert, is securing the necessary funds – private and public – for the Husky Stadium renovation. Woodward was asked does Emmert's void put the university further behind the 8-ball?
"Not one bit," he said.
One of Emmert's key hires is second-year UW football coach Steve Sarkisian.
"You always have a vision of how you want things to get done and to get accomplished, and from President Emmert through Scott Woodward, it's always been about doing things the right way and doing things the way they should get done, but (also) allowing me to do it with the style and the fashion that we want to be able to do it," Sarkisian said. "And I'm very grateful to them for that.
"I think it's obviously a great opportunity for him. And I think the NCAA is getting a good man and a bright guy that is going to lead the NCAA the way we all would hope it would get led."
Isaiah Thomas, the UW basketball star from Curtis High, offered a vote of support through his Twitter account.
"Congrats 2 UW president Mark Emmert for being named President of the NCAA. It was a honor to have a good friendship wit him hes a GREAT dude," Thomas wrote.
Emmert was in Indianapolis on Tuesday for the final interview, and formal introduction as the next NCAA president. He will start at his new post next November.
"This position I find myself in right now is in many ways a natural extension of what I’ve been doing for nearly 30 years now," Emmert said.
Stuff from Tuesday practice:
And on Tuesday, not only did he declare safety Will Shamburger the team's "most improved player," he had the redshirt freshman from Compton, Calif. running with the first-string defense at free safety ahead of incumbent Nate Fellner, who has been in and out of action because of injuries.
"We're letting him do both (safety spots) and he's a very bright kid," Sarkisian said. "He's got great physical ability and is a very good athlete. He's just making plays."
Last week, Sarkisian was asked about the pecking order at tight end. The coach responded if the season started then, Chris Izbicki would get the nod ahead of Middleton, last season's full-time starter.
On Tuesday, Middleton said he was unaware of Sarkisian's comments.
"I really haven't gotten a feeling anything is going on," the junior-to-be said, adding he and Izbicki have virtually shared all the first-team snaps.
Wearing the red jersey, and going through limited drills included running back Chris Polk (shoulder), linebacker Victor Aiyewa (shoulder), offensive lineman Cody Habben (shoulder) and cornerback Desmond Trufant (groin).
Callier has already been ruled out for the Spring Game, and Walker is doubtful.
As for Trufant, the standout from Wilson High, he's trying to find his legs to at least be in contention for playing time at the end of spring.
"Out of shape," he groused.
A new injury occurred Tuesday – this time to receiver Jermaine Kearse, who stayed down after a long pass in the end zone during team drills. He limped off the field. Sarkisian called it a right ankle "tweak" and that he should be OK.
The setup will be similar to a game. Quarters will be 15 minutes, but with running clock. Teams will start drives from the 20-yard-line after scores. On change of possession on non-scoring drives, the line of scrimmage will be determined by an assumed 40-yard punt. The only special-teams activity will be field goals and point-after kicks.
As far as how to split up the roster for the spring game, Sarkisian said he's still tossing a couple ideas around.
"I want to make sure that one, it's entertaining for our fans, but two I want it to be competitive and I want to give our kids the best opportunity to perform," Sarkisian said.
As far as the whole "Friday Night Light" theme, Sarkisian said the plan is for it to be an interactive experience between fans and team.
"We'll have some fun events throughout the game to get the crowd involved in the game with different contests and what-not," he said.