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DI group issues survey on revenue distribution

New concepts would factor academics into how funds are disbursed to members

A group working to ensure the Division I revenue distribution plan reflects the division’s values is surveying members about potential changes to the way Division I revenues are distributed to member schools.

The Values-Based Revenue Distribution Working Group was created in last fall after Division I leaders expressed a desire to ensure the division’s organization and policies reflect its commitments, including prioritizing sound academic standards and student-athlete academic performance.

The revenue distribution plan currently allocates dollars based on three primary factors: participation and progression in the Division I men’s basketball championship, the number of athletics scholarships a school awarded in the prior academic year; and the number of sports a school sponsors. That model has remained largely unchanged since 1991.

The working group has not yet come to any conclusions or made recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors, said working group co-chair William Ruud, president of the University of Northern Iowa. “But we are far enough along to check with fellow presidents, administrators, faculty, conference offices and others to gather feedback and help us improve the concepts before finalizing,” Ruud said.

Christine Copper, faculty athletics representative at the U.S. Naval Academy, serves as co-chair with Ruud.  Copper also sits on the Board of Directors, which will make any final decision about changes to the distribution model.

“The board doesn’t want to make any sudden or major change in this area,” Copper said. “The working group is taking a thoughtful approach that will culminate in recommendations that help us remain true to our core values.”

Members will receive the five- to eight-minute online survey this week, and they will be asked to provide thoughts on four different concepts:

  • Adjusting the revenue distribution principles to be more succinct and include these Division I values: academic achievement; athletics excellence and opportunities; diversity and inclusion; fairness and integrity; health and safety; and student-athlete support and opportunities.
  • Creating an academic achievement revenue distribution through a portion of the increase in the NCAA’s media rights agreement.
  • Renaming the 32 automatic-qualification men’s basketball unit funds that are distributed to each conference. The new name would, without changing the distribution calculation, acknowledge that these are equally distributed revenues that provide financial resources for all Division I member schools.
  • Simplifying the revenue distribution administration by combining similar funds, making the conference alignment timing consistent and combining the payment of three funds intended to provide additional support for students.

The group has offered two different potential models for an academic achievement revenue distribution. Both would base potential funding on the Academic Progress Rate, Graduation Success Rate and comparison of the U.S. Department of Education’s student-athlete graduation rate with its general student body graduation rate. The difference between the two models is that one allows schools with teams subject to an Academic Performance Program penalty to receive funds, and the other does not.

The survey will also include a detailed document describing the concepts as well as the working group’s history and charge, plus background about the revenue distribution plan. Responses will be due to the national office July 1.