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Board completes restructure of major governance bodies 

Presidential Advisory Group reconfigured to include all 32 conferences 

The Division I Board of Directors on Thursday finalized the last major group to operate in the new governance model, creating a group of presidential advisers who will provide counsel to the board on not only current issues but also the role of sports within higher education. 

The new group, the Presidential Forum, will replace the Presidential Advisory Group, which had provided voice for presidents who did not have permanent seats on the board. Every conference will have a representative on the Presidential Forum.

“Division I has important issues to tackle over the next several years. The presidents serving on the Presidential Forum will assist the board with the progress we all expect to make toward improving college athletics and the student-athlete experience,” said University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides, board chair. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement reforms that will help ensure athletics remains an appropriate part of higher education and the development of our students.”  

The new composition and structure of the group is effective immediately. The board encouraged conferences to select presidents other than current board members, though each conference can decide whether it wants two people to serve– one on the board, one on the Presidential Forum – or would prefer that its board representative belong to both groups. Terms will be three years, with meetings occurring twice annually.  

One of the yearly meetings could be a joint session with the board and possibly the NCAA Board of Governors, which includes presidents from all three NCAA divisions, if current issues within college sports would make such a meeting beneficial. The other meeting could include conference commissioners.  

The reconfiguration was proposed by the Presidential Advisory Group, which began in 2004 as a way to provide all conferences the opportunity for a president to influence policy at the national level. The Presidential Advisory Group, which met to finalize its recommendation Wednesday, began discussing its place in the new structure during the Division I governance redesign process. It based the design for the new group on a desire to provide appropriate, broad-based counsel to the board from a variety of perspectives within the division. 

The Presidential Advisory Group stated a need for the board to not only rely on the Presidential Forum to provide counsel in the new structure, but also for the members of the new group to be engaged in NCAA issues so they can provide well-informed advice. 

For their part, board members indicated that they intend to treat the new group as a valuable sounding board composed of their peers. The group will provide a meaningful opportunity for input for members from each conference, board members said. 

 In other business, the presidents heard about preliminary conversations the Council, Committee on Academics and other groups are having about enhancing the academic, athletic and student experiences in Division I. Potential areas of focus include: 

  • Providing additional support for college athletes who are at risk of not completing their degrees. 
  • Providing flexibility in progress-toward-degree rules to students who will graduate early or are academically high-achieving to better enable students to study abroad or experience internships that will prepare them for careers after college.
  • Improving student-athlete satisfaction with their academic and educational experience including an examination of time demands and the appropriate balance of academics and athletics.

The board encouraged the Committee on Academics and Council to continue their good work and to think unconventionally about possible solutions.

The Board heard a report from Jim Phillips, a board member and Council chair, regarding composition of the Council committees and supported the Council’s approach to populating the groups. Other board members acknowledged the collective strength and expertise of the committees.

Phillips, vice president for athletics and recreation at Northwestern University, said the first business meeting of the board in the new structure was an important step toward fulfilling the vision of the board when it restructured Division I. 

“Today is the latest example of the evolution of the NCAA at its highest levels as we work collectively to enhance the student-athlete experience and strengthen student-athlete well-being,” said Phillips. “Representing athletic directors across the nation, the day-to-day practitioners in college athletics, for the first time on the Board of Directors is a distinct honor. We all look forward to building consensus in an environment of collaboration and mutual respect.” 

The board will meet next on Aug.6 in Indianapolis.