You are here

New board starts discussions on future of Division I

Group sets priorities, addresses diversity concerns, names new chair

Harris Pastides, chair of the Division I Board of Directors and president of the University of South Carolina, and Kendall Spencer, inaugural Division I Board of Directors student-athlete representative, discuss the direction and new make-up of the Board.

The first meeting of the new Division I Board of Directors started with fundamental steps Saturday.

The board began conversations about how it should operate moving forward, with an eye toward becoming a body more focused on the overall strategy of Division I. The board met in conjunction with the 2015 NCAA Convention outside Washington, D.C.

The meeting was a joint consultation between the old board and the new version, which for the first time includes a student, an athletics director, a faculty athletics representative and a college athletics administrator who is her department’s designated senior woman administrator.

Kendall Spencer, a psychology major and track and field athlete from the University of New Mexico, was proud to represent the student voice.

“It is a privilege and honor to be a member of the Board of Directors. I believe it makes a statement that speaks to the membership’s continued growing interest in the student-athlete voice,” Spencer said. “As a membership we are becoming a more inclusive body, and while we explore this new governance structure, the student-athlete experience will be enhanced and also made a priority for years to come.”

The board identified a need to establish a decision- process that would be based on the core values of the division, such as integrating academics and athletics and prioritizing student-athlete well-being. The presidents were interested in planning a retreat attended by the entire board. It also named some issues on which it wants to focus its discussions in the next year, including preserving the integration of athletics into higher education by examining issues such as transfers, early enrollment, early recruitment and freshman ineligibility. Any decisions about individual issues then would be based on the values of the division as determined by the board.

Pastides named chair of Division I board

Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch handed over the chairmanship of the board to University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides.

“To have worked on governance reform for so long, and now to be elected as the NCAA Division I board chair, is a double honor and pleasure,” Pastides said. “I look forward to engaging our diverse membership to operationalize our reform agenda and to secure an even stronger future for intercollegiate athletics.”

Hatch, who presided over a period of prodigious change in Division I, completed his term on the board.

“It has been my honor to serve the NCAA as Division I board chair during a period that from most perspectives has been a challenging and pivotal time for both college athletics and the NCAA. I am proud of what we have accomplished together as we move into this new era of autonomy,” Hatch said. “I have been privileged to work with superb colleagues: my fellow college and university presidents, Dr. Mark Emmert and other NCAA staff members and athletics directors from Division I. I am grateful to them all for their time, thoughtfulness, and mostly their commitment to the development of our student-athletes.”

The board also heard a report from Greg Sankey, chair of the Committee on Infractions and executive associate commissioner/chief operations officer of the Southeastern Conference. Sankey discussed how some of the enforcement and infractions process changes adopted by the board in 2012 have unfolded, including the expansion of the committee and the use of hearing panels, the need to continue improving how technology aids enforcement, timing of cases and the new penalty structure.

Need for diversity discussed

The board also redefined the appointment policies for the Council, which is the group responsible for day-to-day decision-making in the division.

Last fall, each Division I conference submitted to the previous board a slate of nominees for the Council. The board,  not satisfied with the lack of diversity in ethnicity, gender and experience offered by the conferences in October, asked for a new slate. The board later approved a roster for the Council but remained concerned about the process and the need for a wider range of viewpoints on the body.

A subcommittee of the board was formed at that time to discuss more specific appointment and nomination policies and recommended some changes. The board adopted new polices that will:

  • Require the slate of up to five nominees submitted from each conference to contribute to preset diversity objectives and to include at least one person who isn’t an athletics director. Board members will not consider rankings unless they assist with diversity, and if a conference fails to nominate a slate that meets diversity goals, the board members may select someone from that conference who was not nominated.
  • Set the expectation that each subgroup (autonomy conferences, the remaining conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championships Subdivision and conferences without football) will not have more than two-thirds of its representatives to be athletics directors. Greater preference will be given if conferences within a group collaborate on a slate that includes both senior women representatives and faculty athletics representatives.
  • Choose athletics directors to represent individual conferences only in two out of three selection cycles. Generally, between 21 and 23 athletics directors will serve on the Council.
  • Ask the board to consider how a conference has contributed to diversity in the past when evaluating future nominees.
  • Approved term limits for Council members. Four-year terms for the approved Council roster will be staggered to provide for continuity and begin to rebalance positional representation. Terms lasting between two and four years will be established. Anyone who serves less than half of a full four-year term will be eligible for reappointment to a full term, though the diversity goals will be a significant factor in all selections. Any Council member who serves more than a two-year term will not be eligible for reappointment until at least two years have elapsed since their previous service.

Board members hope the new policies will help create a Council that is representative of the variety of viewpoints within Division I, leading to more informed and thoughtful decisions.

The board will meet next April 30 in Indianapolis.