As a critical part of the Division I decision-making process, the Leadership Council is focused on strategic issues, including a more concentrated review of the Division I governance structure and a review of important topics likely to face the division and the Board of Directors over the next several years.
Following its recent summer meeting, Council Chair Noreen Morris, commissioner of the Northeast Conference, discussed the Council’s work and its role going forward, both as an advisory group to the Board of Directors and a conduit to those who work with student-athletes and coaches every day.
First and foremost, the Council believes that the governance review process should be designed to help build a sense of community and create a better sense of trust – both in the system as well as between the groups that operate within the system. To achieve that goal, the review process should include opportunities for open and interactive dialogue and encourage the honest sharing of ideas and positions. With that said, the Council believes that the people working with student-athletes every day should have multiple avenues by which to provide meaningful input. We truly believe that clear and concise communication about the format and timeline of the review process as well as opportunities to engage in face-to-face communication will be the key to success.
Obviously, the governance review process is crucial to the future of the Division I. However, the Council recognized that there are a number of issues facing intercollegiate athletics that transcend our governance structure. The Council highlighted three areas or questions we felt would spur discussion and were most relevant for the Division I Board to address in the coming years:
The Leadership Council serves the critical role of maintaining a national focus on the issues facing Division I, both strategic and legislative. But also it delves into the details necessary to ensure that major policy or rule changes will best serve the membership. The beauty of the Council is that it is comprised of one representative from each of the 32 conferences, so everyone’s voice is heard. In addition, there is a healthy balance of conference and campus representatives and as such, the voices are coming from many different perspectives and positions. The ability for the Leadership Council to work as a whole for the good of the association and to have a direct reporting line to the Board of Directors has enabled it to move the needle on a number of important issues, including the adoption of the men’s and women’s basketball recruiting reform package. With the most recent focus on strategic discussions, the Council is prepared to assist the Board through the governance review process and other issues facing Division I.
Through more meaningful conversations and closer collaboration, the Council has begun to build a tighter connection with the Board of Directors. That connection will help us better understand the Board’s vision for the future of Division I, and as such, will allow us to be in a more strategic position to assist it and the membership in realizing that vision. In addition, being more in sync with the presidents on the Board provides an enhanced sense of collaboration, community and shared goals. We also believe it is vital for the Council members to work more closely with other NCAA governing bodies that address issues related to the student-athlete experience, for example academics, championships, health and safety, as well as our conference offices, coaching associations and other constituent groups. This enhanced communication will help facilitate a better understanding of the issues facing each of those constituencies and will ultimately lead to a better flow of ideas and feedback.
The governance review process would be a success if we have been able to achieve the following: