You are here

NCAA to add independent members to top board

In rare Association-wide vote, schools and conferences agree to include outside voices on body that sets strategy for college sports

More than 1,000 NCAA members participated in the vote, with 793 voting to approve the addition of five leaders from outside higher education — perhaps from the government, nonprofit or corporate sectors — to the Board of Governors. NCAA Photos

For the first time, leaders from outside higher education will join college and university presidents on the board that sets the direction for the future of college sports.

Representatives from schools and conferences in all three NCAA divisions came together Thursday for a historic vote aimed at increasing objectivity and adding fresh perspectives to the NCAA Board of Governors, the Association’s highest-ranking governance body. The move is one in a series of reforms aimed at strengthening public trust in the NCAA as an effective leader and regulator in college sports.

More than 1,000 NCAA members participated in the vote, with 793 voting to approve the addition of five leaders from outside higher education — perhaps from the government, nonprofit or corporate sectors — to the Board of Governors. The official vote results showed 205 voting against the proposal and 13 abstaining.

“The recent action taken by the NCAA membership aligns the NCAA Board of Governors more closely with the structure and operation of other boards, including some boards of trustees within higher education,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, chair of the Board of Governors and president of Georgia Tech. “The addition of these independent members will bring diversity of thought and experience to our leadership and help us ensure the future health and well-being of our student-athletes and viability of college sports.”

The current Board of Governors includes 16 college and university presidents and chancellors representing each division as voting members; the chairs of the Division I Council and the Division II and III Management Councils as ex-officio nonvoting members; and the NCAA president. The five independent voting members will not be salaried employees of an NCAA member school, conference or affiliated organization.

To assist with the nominations process, the Board of Governors has contracted a third-party search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to filter and vet candidates. Nominations may be submitted by NCAA members or the public. The Board of Governors Executive Committee, which includes presidents and chancellors from all three divisions, is the nominating committee for independent board members and will make recommendations to the full board for approval.

Broadened representation on the NCAA Board of Governors was among the recommendations of the Commission on College Basketball, an independent group led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and formed in response to a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. The commission made recommendations aimed at repairing the culture that allowed the problems to fester.

Division I already has implemented many of the commission’s recommendations. But the recommendation involving the makeup of the Board of Governors required a rare Association-wide vote at the 2019 NCAA Convention. Nearly all NCAA legislative changes are made by the individual divisions, and Thursday’s vote represented only the third time the entire Association has voted on a measure since the three-division model was restructured in the mid-1990s.

Glen Jones, president of Henderson State and chair of the Division II Presidents Council, said the five independent members will “enhance the Association by injecting our governance processes with new perspectives, greater diversity of experience and increased levels of objectivity.”

“This proposal is also a win for student-athletes in all divisions because it allows the Board of Governors to make decisions to enhance their broad experience across the divisions with new perspectives not currently represented on the board,” said Jeff Docking, president of Adrian and chair of the Division III Presidents Council. “These new independent members will … be people who can offer distinct insights to help improve our Association and divisions.”