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DI seeks policies that reaffirm commitment to education

The division will review time demands on college athletes and how schools prepare them for life after sports

Division I leadership’s top priority remains the education of college athletes, and future decisions will strengthen that commitment, the Division I Board of Directors decided Wednesday after reviewing recommendations developed this week at the Division I Strategic Summit.

The summit brought together leaders from across the division to create and reaffirm the values that guide decision-making in college sports. Using those discussions as a foundation, the board acted Wednesday to shape some recommendations for future direction. Those ideas – some that were already under consideration and others that are new and require a more thorough look – will now be reviewed by Division I member committees.

 “An excellent cross-section of university leaders brought their experience, ideas and energy to the summit,” said board chair Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina. “The board is appreciative of the work done to help define college sports in the years ahead, and I feel we are in a good position to emerge as a stronger association.”

The board took several steps intended to ultimately provide college athletes with a college experience that fully prepares them for their future after athletics participation is complete.

Members acknowledged that the demands on college athletes’ time were significant but agreed the issue requires further study. The most serious concern was that athletics commitments can sometimes prevent college athletes from pursuing academic goals such as particular majors, internships and research opportunities.

 The board asked both the Division I Council and the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to provide guidance on how to more accurately measure and limit the time commitments of college athletes. The board also asked the national office to create best practices for preparing students for life after college, including a focus on financial counseling and translating skills learned during athletics participation to career-applicable skills.

Board members also discussed issues related to the intersection of professional and college sports. The group referred a number of concepts for further study by different governance bodies, including allowing college athletes expanded access to advice and information that help them gauge their prospects as professional athletes. Another idea referred for more study involves potentially making it easier for former college athletes to return to school after attempting a professional athletics career.

The board will seek input on these concepts from the Council and its sport-specific standing committees, as well as the five conferences with the ability to propose legislative changes in particular areas – the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences.

Already being considered this year is a proposal that would more clearly define the role of the NCAA in cases of academic integrity. Board members reaffirmed that the NCAA will not intrude on curriculum decisions made by schools but will help ensure college athletes are held to the same academic standards as other students. The Committee on Academics and Committee on Infractions will continue to monitor this issue.

The board members also asked the Committee on Academics to consider whether current academic metrics capture academic achievement appropriately – particularly when Division I includes schools with both a highly selective admissions process and those with open admissions. The study could result in policies that can be tailored to specific schools or types of schools.

The board also assigned to the Committee on Academics a study of how to identify and support college athletes identified as academically at risk of not earning a degree.

The board members will work with the Council and the NCAA Presidential Forum, a new group with representation from presidents in every Division I conference, to appoint separate working groups to study the multi-sport sponsorship issues and how financial distributions could better align with the core values of the Association. Forum members also will assist the Board in a study of early recruitment issues.

Board members intend the process of developing recommendations into legislation to be fluid between the board and the groups working on different issues. Leaving communication channels open will allow for a more collaborative process.

In other business, the board:

  • Created the position of vice chair to allow someone to serve as an acting chair if necessary and represent the board on other governance bodies within the Association.
  • Created an administrative committee to handle important operational issues that don’t warrant the consideration of the full board.
  • Tasked the administrative committee with considering what standing committees should be created and who should populate each of them. A number of suggestions were made, including committees addressing academic success, governance and membership, the autonomy legislative process, communications, finance and governmental affairs.
  • Established the charge and general responsibilities of the Presidential Forum, a new group within the Division I governance structure that replaced the Presidential Advisory Group. The forum members will serve as the primary presidential advisory governance body to the Board of Directors on strategic, policy, and legislative issues.

Board of Governors creates Vice Chair

The NCAA’s Board of Governors on Wednesday approved the formation of a vice-chair position during its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis. The vice-chair will be selected in a vote of the Board, and will be required to come from a different division as the chair. Nominations and a vote to fill the position will be taken at a later date.

The vice-chair position was part of a broader proposal from the Board’s Committee on Structure and Composition, which laid out an 18-month plan for working with the NCAA membership to restructure the Board’s composition. The plan, which was approved by the Board, includes holding an Association-wide educational session at the 2016 NCAA Convention, surveying the membership to inform the committee’s discussions, and developing educational programs in each division to inform members about the Board of Governors’ role and share possible models for representation on the committee.

Any recommended changes to the Board’s composition would have to be approved during an Association-wide vote at the NCAA Convention, which could occur no sooner than 2017.