Horizon Leagues hires former NCAA vice president
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Julie Roe Lach is getting back into athletic administration.
Fourteen months after the first woman to lead the NCAA's enforcement division was ousted from that position, the Horizon League hired Lach on Wednesday as its deputy commissioner. She'll be in charge of the league's 19 championships, student-athlete development, finances, corporate sponsorship and branding of a conference that is headquartered in Indianapolis, just a short walk from her previous employer.
It will be a new world for Lach, who has spent much her adult life enforcing rules and is now running her own consulting business.
''I felt like I was back in (college athletics) because I was working directly with individual schools and conferences and institutions hired me to come in for ethics instruction and those sorts of things,'' she said. ''It's been fun because my eyes have been really open to the challenges schools face.''
Lach faced her own challenges, too.
She steadily ascended the enforcement division ladder, working her way up from intern to vice president of enforcement, and was widely respected and well-liked by man inside NCAA headquarters.
But when NCAA President Mark Emmert announced in January 2013 that the NCAA's own investigators had improperly collected evidence as they looked into accusations of rules violations at the University of Miami, Lach became the public face of the scandal. A month later after completing an internal investigation, Emmert announced Lach would be leaving her post.
Since then, the former small-school college basketball star kept a relatively low-profile and has repeatedly declined to discuss what happened at the NCAA. She didn't want to talk about it Wednesday, either.
Lach said she does keep in touch with some people still working at headquarters and that some NCAA employees have even steered potential clients to her company. She also is in contact with David Price, an old mentor and acknowledges that her passion for college sports never waned.
That's one reason she started JRL Consulting.
''One school hired me to come in and do an overall institutional assessment,'' she said. ''It's a very different view when you're there to help put things in order rather than if you're trying to investigate them. You realize the resource challenges they have. Yeah, they want to add more staff, but they can't do it because the resources aren't there.''
Lach was exactly the kind of person Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone wanted in this newly-created position.
So LeCrone, who has played a key role in helping overhaul the NCAA's governance structure, set up a lunch meeting with Lach. It didn't take long for Lach to say yes.
She'll begin her new job Aug. 4.
''Julie brings a wealth of experience, depth of knowledge and national perspective to the Horizon League,'' LeCrone said in a statement. ''She is the perfect fit at the right time.''
Now, after spending more than a year working in the field rather than in an office, Lach has a better concept of the everyday concerns Horizon League schools face. And she's eager to help them navigate the complexities of understanding rules, regulations and resource restrictions.
''I think any time you just you look at something through a different lens, whether it's by position or how intentional you are, it just changes your view,'' she said. ''I think you can understand and empathize with them more.''