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Division I to hold strategic summit

Governance leaders to chart course for future

Division I leaders will meet in Indianapolis this summer to decide how to address the most pressing challenges facing college sports. 

The Division I Board of Directors on Thursday decided to convene the Division I Strategic Summit for about 50 leaders from various governance bodies. The summit will provide a forum for participants to enhance the value-based framework for strategic decision-making throughout Division I. The two-day meeting will take place Aug. 4-5, in advance of the board’s regular meeting Aug. 6.

“The summit will provide an important opportunity for Division I leaders to decide on principles to serve as guideposts for all Division I policy and legislative decisions moving forward,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “The choices we make now will create the college experience we want for our student-athletes in the future.”

These principles will steer the Division I Council and all its committees in their work for the division.

“This is an exciting opportunity for those who serve in the governance structure to work together to define the goals of Division I for the next five years,” said University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides, board chair. “The work done at the summit will help shape the agenda for the division and provide guidance to the representative leadership as we work toward improving college athletics and the student-athlete experience.”

NCAA Board of Governors chair Kirk Schulz, president at Kansas State University, agreed that the summit will help the Board of Directors focus on strategic issues while giving guidance to the Council and other groups.

“Now that new governance bodies are in place, we will work to provide them with a strong foundation on which they can build the future for the division,” Schulz said. “I look forward to hearing ideas from members about how they’d like to improve college sports and better support student-athletes while keeping athletics as an important part of higher education.”

During its meeting Thursday, the Board of Directors tentatively created four strategic planning groups to work on different aspects of the summit. The planning groups will study each area, pulling in experts as needed, to lay the foundation for discussions at the August event. Each of the groups will focus on defining a specific area:

  • The Division I collegiate model of amateur athletics, including the key features of the Division I student-athlete experience and use of resources within athletics.
  • How college sports should assist students while they are in college, including academic achievement and appropriate demands on time.
  • How college athletics should assist students to prepare for life after college, including those who wish to pursue athletics through professional pursuits and other high-level opportunities such as the Olympics.
  • The overarching principles for how the division should operate, including examining the current subdivision structure and the role of conferences.

The subject areas for the planning groups could evolve. Each group will have the ability to hone their focus on different areas within their general topics, depending on the feedback they receive leading up to the summit.

Members of the strategic planning groups will include summit participants as well as leaders from within athletics administration. Pastides will choose a chair for each group, and members will begin working in May. They will be supported by NCAA staff and have access to research and outside experts and materials as needed.

The process will be facilitated by Tom Donilon, vice chair of the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers and former national security adviser. Donilon will work with each of the planning groups to prepare briefing documents in each area for the summit.

Invited to the summit will be all members of the Board of Directors (including the student-athlete, athletics director, faculty athletics representative and senior woman administrator who serve on that group); Presidential Forum members from conferences that do not have representation on the board; the chair and vice chair of the Council; the chairs of the seven standing Council committees and the Committee on Infractions; and the four Board of Governors presidents from Divisions II and III.