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Steering committee working toward new governance model

Group hopes to have revised structure proposal to conferences this spring

Some highlights of the choices the Division I Restructuring Steering Committee is considering:

  • Autonomy in specific areas for a set of five conferences.
  • Day-to-day decisions made by a 38-member Council, with student-athlete and commissioner votes.
  • Board of Directors to retain oversight of the division, with other voices in the room.
  • Preserving the override option for decisions made by the entire division.

The steering committee that is leading NCAA plans to restructure Division I plans to deliver a proposed governance model to the membership this spring.

The model will arrive in time for the athletic conferences’ spring meetings, allowing member institutions to discuss the model and provide feedback.

Following the Division I Dialogue that took place in conjunction with the NCAA Convention in January and brought members together to discuss the division’s future, the Division I Steering Committee on Governance began narrowing choices for the new structure.

The steering committee’s discussions so far have focused on the size and composition of the Board of Directors, which would oversee strategy for Division I but would not actively consider legislation. Matters discussed by the committee include the size, composition and reporting lines of various other bodies that report to the board, and details about which matters some members could decide for themselves and which ones require a collective decision.

“We are leaning toward a board of 17 presidents, but we are considering adding additional voices to the boardroom,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch, chairman of the Board of Directors and of the steering committee. “We have yet to decide whether these new positions would have a vote or not.”

One of the new faces in the proposed boardroom could belong to a student-athlete. Although student-athletes now have non-voting seats on councils that report to the current Board of Directors, they have never had positions on the board itself. For the new Board of Directors, the steering committee is seeking feedback from membership on whether the student-athletes should have a vote in addition to a seat.

Other highlights of the steering committee’s proposed model include:

  • The highest decision-making body that would pass all legislation is tentatively called the Council.
  • The steering committee has proposed the addition of two voting student-athletes on the Council, which would be comprised of 38 members – one from each conference, plus two student-athletes and four conference commissioners.
  • Because the Council would have an athletics director as chair, that person would have a seat on the Board of Directors, though the steering committee has not made a recommendation on whether that person would have a vote. The Council would likely be made up mostly of athletics directors.  
  • Another major change to the current governance model would involve granting some legislative autonomy to the five major conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pacific-12 Conference and Southeastern). The steering committee has more to discuss in this area: More work needs to be done to explicitly state the areas of autonomy and how decisions would be made among the five conferences, though the steering committee is discussing a year-long legislative process. The committee also must discuss a process for adjusting these areas of autonomy in the future.

One thing the steering committee has determined regarding autonomy for the five conferences is that any matter not included on the list of areas for autonomy or football would then fall into shared governance to be decided by the collective group.

No matter what the new governance structure looks like, the steering committee wants to retain an override option for the Division I membership, with the possibility of increasing the majority required to override legislation also up for discussion.

The steering committee will continue to refine the model, with more conversations planned over the coming weeks.

“The membership’s continued participation and commitment to an effective and viable governance structure is appreciated greatly, as we all work together for solutions that will better serve intercollegiate athletics, student-athletes and member institutions,” Hatch said.

Members hope to have an updated model for the current Board of Directors to review in April, and members can continue to provide feedback the conferences’ spring meetings.  If Division I members develop a consensus about the tenets of the proposed model, the Board hopes to act to adopt the basic elements of a new structure in August.