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DI board acts to move forward strategic agenda

Health and safety, academics, diversity and inclusion, enforcement and infractions progress highlighted

The Division I Board of Directors heard updates on progress made in several of its strategic areas of emphasis, including health and safety, academic misconduct, diversity and inclusion and enforcement and infractions. The board met Wednesday in Indianapolis.

“Division I is making excellent progress toward the goals we set last year,” said Eric Kaler, board chair and president at Minnesota. “We are pleased to see such important things happening to support student-athletes.”

Dr. Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer and senior vice president, discussed the current health and safety environment with the board members and discussed changes that have been made, are in progress or are planned.

The board referred several items to the Division I Strategic Vision and Planning Committee, including:

  • Strategies for ensuring that legislation recently adopted to protect student-athlete health and well-being is being effectively employed.
  • Increasing participation in the Injury Surveillance System.
  • Staffing levels for athletic trainers.
  • Effectiveness of drug testing programming.
  • The potential for a national organization for athletics health care administrators.
  • The potential development of a self-study instrument to help campuses assess their own programs.

The board urged Division I governance groups and individual campus leaders to be sure that the independent medical care rules are implemented in a way to provide an optimal environment for student-athlete health and safety.

In other health and safety action, board members adopted legislation to require schools outside the autonomy conferences to provide mental health resources and education for student-athletes. In January, the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences adopted that same rule.

Board members heard from Frank Gilliam, chair of the Division I Presidential Forum and president at North Carolina-Greensboro, about the forum’s progress on academic misconduct issues and subsequent outreach to Division I member schools. The board will hear an update on membership feedback during its August meeting.

Katrice Albert, NCAA executive vice president of inclusion and human resources, provided the board with information about Division I demographics, both in employment at member schools and service within the governance structure. She also discussed ways the national office could partner with member organizations to support and develop diversity and inclusion programming.

The board endorsed the development of appropriate performance metrics to monitor progress in diversity and inclusion practices, including technology-based tools for members.

Board members also asked the Strategic Vision and Planning Committee to analyze demographics and create aspirational yet realistic goals for diversity within athletics programs. The committee also will examine outcomes of NCAA and conference grant and internship programs designed to support diverse leadership. The committee is expected to have initial feedback in October.

The board also heard from representatives from the NCAA enforcement staff and the offices of the committees on infractions and infractions appeals committees about the current environment and challenges in those areas. The board’s Administrative Committee will study the creation of a more permanent group within the governance structure to provide guidance on policy items in the regulatory area from a strategic perspective. Recommendations will be reviewed in August.

Also Wednesday, the board approved a $5 million reduction in the annual distribution of revenue to Division I members in order to fund initiatives related to the implementation of the Commission on College Basketball recommendations and sports wagering integrity services.

The reduction, effective in the 2019-20 fiscal year, will be spread evenly through all revenue distribution funds except the academic performance fund, student-athlete opportunity fund and special assistance fund. The decision to keep these distributions whole safeguards funds intended to directly benefit student-athletes as well as the new academic performance fund, which will make its first distributions in the summer of 2020.

The plan was recommended by the board’s Finance Committee after its members consulted all 32 Division I member conferences.

In January, the board approved $16.2 million in expenses for commission recommendation implementation efforts, including the creation and operation of the College Basketball Academy for prospective student-athletes, funding for former men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes to complete their degrees at limited-resource schools and the creation of an agent certification program.

Finally, members elected Eli Capilouto, president at Kentucky, as the next chair. Denise Trauth, Texas State president, was elected chair of the Finance Committee.