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DI Board reaffirms strategic agenda

Health care, revenue distribution also discussed

The Division I Board of Directors revisited its strategic agenda Thursday during its meeting in Indianapolis, focusing its priorities around academics, fairness and student-athlete well-being.

Board members affirmed their list of initiatives for the next three years, which includes: enhancing the values-based revenue distribution plan; helping student-athletes better participate in the full college experience; and reviewing the enforcement and infractions processes for the division. The group also asked its administrative committee and the Division I Council’s Strategic Vision and Planning Committee to ensure that the list aligns with divisional values.

 “We are doing so much good work in Division I, it’s important to review our strategic agenda frequently in order to make sure student-athletes remain at the heart of everything we do,” said board chair Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina, Columbia. "As we guide the direction of Division I, we must remain true to our values and ready to address needed changes on campus in a careful, thoughtful manner.”  

The board members also discussed how they could accomplish one of their priorities – extending to all of Division I a rule requiring an independent reporting line for medical staff and giving those staffs the authority to make all return-to-play and other student medical decisions.

That rule was already adopted in January by the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences; the other 27 Division I conferences now have the ability to opt-in to the legislation.

Based on the feedback from the Division I Council,  the Board agreed to request written notification from each non-autonomy conference as to whether all members of the conference have agreed to opt-in to the legislation. The Board emphasized the importance of each conference providing their agreement with the provision.

Board members also want the two-year governance reviewgroup that is currently studying the effectiveness of the governance structure to work with the autonomy conferences to examine how to best address health and safety issues for Division I student-athletes.

Academic revenue distribution proposed

The group also heard an update from the Values-Based Revenue Distribution Working Group, a presidentially led body that will make final recommendations for the board’s approval later this fall on how the division’s revenue will be shared among its members. The working group is considering the creation of a new academic fund that would award an “academic unit” (similar to the units distributed for participation and performance in the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship) that would distribute money based on an athletics program’s academic performance.

“Creating this academic distribution would more explicitly align the Division I revenue distribution plan with our values, in particular those that relate to academic achievement,” said working group member Eli Capilouto, president of the University of Kentucky. “Academics are a core part of our mission as an organization.”

The current revenue distribution plan includes allocation of funds based on:

  • Participation and progression in the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
  • The number of athletics scholarships a school gave in the previous academic year.
  • The number of sports a school sponsors.

Additional money is set aside to support other supplemental funds, such as the academic enhancement fund, student assistance fund and the conference grants fund.

The board members will discuss the group’s final recommendation in October.

Legislation deadline delayed

The board members approved a one-year waiver to delay the deadline to submit legislative proposals to the Division I Council until Oct. 14, 2016. Members also adopted legislation to move the legislative submission deadline for the autonomy conferences to two weeks before the board’s October meeting.

The 65 schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences still plan to vote on their legislation in January. The Division I Council, which votes on legislation for all of Division I, will continue to vote in April with the exception of specific proposals designated for a January vote. The amendment period for items on which the Council will vote will be permanently extended to Feb. 1.

The board also endorsed developing a process for the Council to formally recommend legislative concepts to the five autonomy conferences to consider for legislation. Those conferences have the authority to make rules in specific areas, and the board agreed with the Council that it is important to establish a process for members outside those conferences to suggest changes.

New Division I members approved

Finally, board members approved the election of reclassifying members:

  • The University of Northern Kentucky became a Division I member.
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte moved from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
  • The Northwest Water Polo Conference became a Division I single-sport conference.

All three actions are effective with the 2016-17 academic year.