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DI board reaffirms membership requirements

Members make recommendations for Board of Governors responsibilities

University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler speaks during the Division I Board of Directors meeting in Nashville on Thursday.

The Division I Board of Directors reaffirmed the current requirements for membership in Division I, including gender equity, sport sponsorship and academic support requirements. The board met Thursday in conjunction with the 2017 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

The endorsement resulted from a recommendation from the Sport Organizational Structure Working Group, a presidentially led body the board created to address issues identified at the 2015 Division I Strategic Summit.

Chair Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, said the board’s decision was important in a number of ways.

“The action we took underscores many of the commitments vital to Division I membership, including unequivocal support for broad-based sport programming for men and women, the importance of athletics financial aid offerings to support the academic pursuits of college athletes, the value of Division I intercollegiate athletics and our dedication to excellence in academics and athletics,” Kaler said.

Randy Woodson, president of North Carolina State University and co-chair of the Sport Organizational Structure Working Group, said the group found broad support among the Division I membership for many of the current requirements.

“This was not a rubber stamp. It was a careful, deliberative review with a thoughtful survey instrument that was responded to well by the membership,” Woodson said. “We are pleased to make this recommendation.”

Charged with defining the requirements of Division I membership with an emphasis on sport sponsorships and student-athlete experience, the working group recommended the board reaffirm the appropriateness of current requirements, including the current number of sports and gender equity requirements; a demonstrated commitment to providing academic support; and the importance of collaborating with the U. S. Olympic Committee and other national governing bodies to assure adequate support for elite student-athletes in all sports.

The board also, at the working group’s recommendation, asked Division I’s Football Oversight Committee and Strategic Vision and Planning Committee to further review whether the current football attendance requirement should continue to serve as a way for schools to demonstrate commitment to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Current rules require FBS schools to average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football games once every two years on a rolling basis.

NCAA Board of Governors roles and responsibilities

Division I Board of Directors members affirmed many of the current responsibilities of the Association’s highest governing body, the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors oversees the entire Association and draws members from all three NCAA divisions. That group has been studying its role in the NCAA governance structure in conjunction with all three divisions.

Board of Directors members affirmed the governors’ fiscal responsibilities, including oversight of the Association’s budget, but the directors recommended that the Division I group assume oversight and approval for Division I-specific expenses and revenue distribution.

The Division I board also supported the litigation oversight role of the Board of Governors but indicated interest in developing a formal process for seeking feedback from the Division I Board of Directors in cases that have significant impact on Division I.

The Board of Directors also supported a review of the potential benefits of granting the governors limited legislative authority to address health and safety issues if necessary, though members indicated additional discussion, especially with colleagues in Divisions II and III, will be vital.

The recommendations from the Division I Board of Directors will go to the NCAA Board of Governors for consideration.

Combating sexual violence

Finally, the Board of Directors heard an update on the work of the Commission to Combat Sexual Violence, and members remain keenly interested in the work of the group moving forward. Chaired by Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, the commission is proactively examining issues and will propose solutions related to what athletics departments, conferences and the NCAA could do to address campus sexual violence and achieve positive culture change.