The Division I Council moved the creation of the governance structure closer to the finish line this week when it appointed the members of its seven committees.
Council chair Jim Phillips, athletics director at Northwestern University, said the members treated each committee like it was forming a team, with chairs determining the skills, expertise and experience each committee needed. The Council then identified the most qualified candidates to fill each committee’s need.
“This group is extremely confident in the process we used to populate the governance structure. It was thoughtful, respectful and collaborative,” Phillips said. “We identified the most competent and skilled people to serve without compromising our belief in having broad-based representation of genders, job titles, ethnic identities, conferences and subdivisions. The paramount qualification was a commitment to the student-athlete experience and student-athlete well-being.”
The Council named 46 voting administrators, faculty, coaches and former coaches to serve on the seven committees. Additionally, non-voting members were selected for some group sand other members were appointed by virtue of holding other positions within the governance structure (for example, the Division I men’s and women’s basketball committee chairs will serve as non-voting members on the Men's Basketball Oversight and Women's Basketball Oversight committees).
The student-athlete voting positions on each committee will be filled at a later time by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Several of the sport-specific groups have also requested additional student-athlete members.
Some members advocated for adding a dedicated position to each committee for a faculty athletics representative, but the Council members defeated a motion to designate a specific position on each committee for a FAR. Instead, the Council agreed to place additional emphasis on having a faculty voice that can influence the conversation in every group. In addition to the FARs appointed to the various committees, some groups included faculty members as non-voting members in order to ensure their perspective is included. Those non-voting members will be selected in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the Council charged its three FAR members with working with both the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association and the Division I Faculty Athletics Representatives group to develop recommendations for ensuring their voice in the Council’s standing committees is sufficient.
“To a person the Council agreed that the faculty voice is critically important in the council’s work,” Phillips said. “There is strong commitment to finding the best ways to ensure strong faculty input to improve Division I athletics for student-athletes.”
Candidates were vetted thoroughly both by the Council members already serving on each individual committee and by the Council as a whole. Members praised the process, during which Council members made difficult choices about how to balance the need for experienced and effective members with the value of building rosters with diverse backgrounds.
“The process was comprehensive, thorough and well-thought through,” said Sandy Hatfield Clubb, athletics director at Drake University and chair of the Strategic Planning and Vision Committee. “Albeit on a short timeline, there was a strong focus on competency, on getting the best, most-talented people while still embracing diversity across all seven committees. …I have a high level of confidence in this process.”
Others expressed concern about having representation from all conferences on the committees. Eight conferences did not have a nominee selected to one of the seven standing committees. Members noted that as people rotate off committees, all conferences will continue to have opportunities to have its members named. Appointment policies do not assign spots to specific conferences or subdivisions.
Legislative responsibilities discussed
The Council members also discussed their responsibility to understand the implications of all legislation within the division – no matter its origin – and assist in both implementation and understanding the impact. Rules adopted through the autonomy process – which gave the 65 schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pacific 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference the flexibility to approve some types of legislation for themselves – have an impact on all other schools in Division I. Those Division I members may also opt into legislation approved by the autonomy conferences.
In January, the autonomy schools created a Concussion Safety Protocol Committee that must review concussion safety procedures developed by each of the 65 schools against a checklist developed by the committee. The committee, comprised of medical professionals selected by each of the five autonomy conferences, is not large enough to handle additional reviews if schools outside the five autonomy conferences opt in. To address that issue, the Council approved creation of a separate, similar committee to review plans from schools in leagues outside the autonomy conferences.
Financial aid clarified
Additionally, the group received an update on the implementation of the autonomy legislation that allows schools to provide a student-athlete with athletics financial aid up to the cost of attendance.
In response to questions from the Division I membership, the update confirmed that schools can use NCAA Student Assistance Fund dollars to provide financial aid for cost of attendance-related expenses other than: tuition and fees; room and board; and required course-related books when those expenses are included in the student’s financial aid agreement. However, if money from the fund is used that way, it must count against the legislated financial aid limit for the student and for his or her team.
The Council will meet next June 22-24 in Indianapolis.