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“We are committed to keeping ourselves in this one big division because of that,” said Rita Cheng, chancellor at Southern Illinois, and the only small-school representative to appear with Emmert on Sunday. “As long as we can know that we can be competitive in the tournament and that our athletes can have opportunities, it’s appropriate for us to say, ‘Your world is different than our world.’”

Emmert and the other leaders said they were blameless for the NBA’s “one and done” rule that allows basketball players to go pro after only one year in college. Kentucky has five freshmen starters and at least a few of them aren’t expected to return next year.

“I’ve been a pretty vocal in opposition to that notion,” Emmert said.

The president conceded that issue, like so many others, is beyond his control.

That’s life in the NCAA, which has 351 Division I members, with many different agendas. Though Emmert disagrees with those whose legal maneuverings might undo the NCAA, he recognizes the need for some changes.

“It’s a group that makes decisions in a ponderous democratic process,” Emmert said. “These people to my left are trying very much to change the decision-making structure, so they can make decisions more rapidly and address things in a more real-time way.”

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