As Division I transitions into its new governance structure this month, the chairs of the highest-profile groups within the old structure will make way for new leadership on the new Division I Board of Directors, Council and Committee on Academics. With years of experience to draw from, these four leaders offer words of wisdom to the new recruits:
Nathan Hatch, Wake Forest University president and Division I Board of Directors chair:
“I would advise the new Division I to work hard to make sure the new governance structure of Division I works effectively and fulfills the goals for which it was created. We hope the structure is more strategic and nimble and addresses core challenges of schools and conferences. I also hope the new board chair will help make sure the new structure, which allows a measure of autonomy for five well-resourced conferences, works efficiently and with the confidence of the entire board.
Mary Mulvenna, America East Conference assistant commissioner and Legislative Council chair:
“Perhaps most importantly, my advice for the new board chair is to remain grounded in the core principles of the NCAA at a time of great turbulence in college athletics.”
“Guide the group to be forward-thinking, to engage in healthy discussion and do what’s best for student-athletes and membership as a whole. As we embrace this new world of autonomy and institutional decision-making, it will challenge individuals to think outside the box. We must remember to keep at our core the best interests of student-athletes and our educational values.”
Noreen Morris, Northeast Conference commissioner and Leadership Council chair:
“Buckle up! It’s going to be quite a ride. But in all seriousness, as challenging as it was to chair the Leadership Council through the governance restructuring process, the experiences I had has certainly been a highlight of my career. I was energized and invigorated by the collective passion and commitment of the group to improve the overall student-athlete experience, as well as truly impressed with their ability to express their views in a respectful, yet purposeful way.
“From an operational perspective, rely on the staff for their knowledge, historical perspective and access to the resources that are crucial to organize and manage a productive meeting; but demand that the Council members identify and prioritize the issues they think are most important to the Division I membership. Then, position them to actively participate in interactive and collaborative discussions within the Council and among the entities within the substructure. Good luck!”
Walter Harrison, University of Hartford president and Committee on Academic Performance chair:
“Continue to work for improvement. We shouldn’t be satisfied. I think there’s still work to be done. Always ask the hard questions. Continue to involve the board of directors. Their support will always be important as we move into some new unchartered territory. … I am rather certain that not only will there be a good new chair, there will be good new committee members. I’m very confident that those people will enter this work with the same devotion that we had. The job of the chair is to nurture the best work from the staff and the members of the committee. The NCAA staff that has worked with this committee is just a remarkable collection of talented and devoted individuals. Let them guide you. They are a great group of people.”