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DII chair: Adding independent members will help enhance trust at a critical time

Division II Presidents Council chair weighs in on forthcoming Board of Governors composition vote

By Glen Jones

Glen Jones, president of Henderson State and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. NCAA Photos archive

As members of Division II, we are proud of the unique characteristics that define our divisional home in the NCAA. We have chosen this division for myriad reasons — its strategic vision and values that align with our own institutional missions, the emphasis on providing a balanced college experience for student-athletes, and, of course, the opportunity to “Make It Yours.” Yet in January we face an uncommon Association-wide vote that will require us to take a broader perspective, focusing not on our individual divisional priorities and differences but instead joining with our counterparts in Divisions I and III to enact a change that will make us — all of us — stronger. 

In Their Words

“Public higher education has a long history of successfully seeking partners for collaboration to enhance the educational and campus experience we offer to students. … By adding independent members to the Board of Governors, the NCAA would be taking steps to be a ‘learning organization’ — one that facilitates the learning of its members by seeking the perspectives of individuals in other sectors in order to continuously transform.”Sandra Jordan, chancellor of South Carolina Aiken and member of the Division II Presidents Council

“The NCAA is all about putting students first, and the whole idea of adding independent board members is to strengthen our efforts to put students first, so I can’t see how we lose.”Gary Olson, president of Daemen and vice chair of the Division II Presidents Council

“We’ve got to do something. Change is needed, and now is the time to act.”M. Roy Wilson, president at Wayne State (Michigan) and member of the Division II Presidents Council

The proposed addition of five independent members to the NCAA Board of Governors, a concept first recommended by the Commission on College Basketball in April, will enhance the entire Association by injecting our governance process with new perspectives, greater diversity of experience, and increased levels of objectivity. This proposal is not correcting a problem, but rather adding value to the NCAA. Because the change will require a modification to the NCAA Constitution, delegates from all three divisions will vote on the proposal at the 2019 NCAA Convention. As a result, all of us must take this step together, knowing that what is good for the Association is also good for Division II.

The Division II Presidents Council supports adding independent members to the board for several reasons. First, we are accustomed to the presence of outside members on boards at our own institutions and recognize the role such representatives serve in adding transparency and objectivity to any board’s business. We also have confidence in the nomination process led by the Board of Governors Executive Committee, which includes equal representation from all three divisions. All candidates will be thoroughly vetted and considered for their stature and expertise before being recommended to the board. Additionally, the candidates must not have a direct connection to an NCAA school in their current position, a characteristic that could benefit Division II by adding outside voices.

The addition of independent members will be an important step in enhancing public trust at a critical juncture for the NCAA. The current reality of the Association is directly linked to an erosion of public trust in intercollegiate athletics. Our desire to enhance and preserve this trust is a critical factor in the council’s support of this proposal. Adding independent members to the board was part of a set of recommendations issued by the Commission on College Basketball. Formed after the announcement of a federal investigation into fraud in college basketball, the commission was tasked with examining the complex issues within the sport and recommending solutions to the NCAA. The commission has fulfilled its charge; now it’s our turn to act. We cannot deny that change is needed, and we, as voting members of the NCAA, must make it happen.

A positive first step in this direction was taken by the Presidents Council in August. We adopted as noncontroversial legislation another change recommended by the commission that will hold presidents and chancellors more accountable for the integrity of their athletics programs. This new legislation will require each school’s president or chancellor to join all athletics staff members in personally affirming that their athletics program meets the membership obligations for institutional control and rules compliance. We also must confirm that when rules are broken, our schools will cooperate fully with the NCAA and take appropriate corrective actions. This certification of compliance will be required before a school is deemed eligible for individual and team championships and will be effective for the 2019-20 academic year. 

I join with my fellow members on the Division II Presidents Council in encouraging you to support these changes in January. While the challenge before us is significant, our belief in the value of intercollegiate athletics and in student-athletes themselves requires that we come together as an Association to pave a stronger path forward.

Glen Jones is the president of Henderson State and chair of the Division II Presidents Council. He serves on the NCAA Board of Governors and was a member of the Association-wide Issues Working Group, formed after the Commission on College Basketball’s report.

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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