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College Sports Insider With Jack Ford

In this weekly podcast, journalist Jack Ford (“60 Minutes Sports,” “Good Morning America,” NBC News) interviews individuals who have unique insight into the world of college sports. Produced by the NCAA and Champion magazine, episodes delve into the most pressing topics of the day and offer behind-the-scenes points of view from those who shape college athletics.

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What is an SWA?

February 12, 2018 | Listen on SoundCloud

The senior woman administrator is the highest-ranking female involved in the management of a school’s athletics program. But, for those who fill the role, what does that designation entail? And what obstacles do female administrators face, even today? Jack Ford with Kate Roy, associate director of athletics, compliance coordinator and SWA at Lyndon State.


An Olympic Pipeline

February 5, 2018 | Listen on SoundCloud

In October, the U.S. Olympic Committee assembled the Collegiate Advisory Council, a body that includes athletics directors from prominent programs around the country and is tasked with evaluating and strengthening Olympic sport offerings at the collegiate level. A look at the group’s goals and how the USOC is strengthening its ties with NCAA schools. Jack Ford with Sarah Wilhelmi, USOC director of collegiate partnerships.


You Snooze, You Win

January 29, 2018 | Listen on SoundCloud

Quality sleep raises GPAs and lowers the number of dropped classes. On the field, it speeds reaction times and decreases injury risk. So how can college athletes get more of it? One Division III school has committed itself to ensuring that they do. Those efforts were detailed in a January Champion magazine story. Jack Ford with Roxanne Prichard, scientific director of the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Center for College Sleep.


Top Marks

January 22, 2018 | Listen on SoundCloud

Barry Wilmore rose from walk-on to star linebacker at Tennessee Tech, becoming his team’s most proficient tackler. That rise to prominence paled in comparison to what came next. Wilmore parlayed a career as a Navy pilot to one as an astronaut. He has amassed 178 days in space over the course of two missions. For his accomplishments on the field and off, Wilmore was the recipient of the 2018 NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award, the Association’s highest honor. Jack Ford with Wilmore, NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy captain.


Champion Magazine Turns 10

January 15, 2018 | Listen on SoundCloud

In January, the NCAA’s magazine will celebrate its 10th anniversary. The publication’s two top editors discuss how the magazine evolved from an NCAA newspaper, how the staff tackles some of its most ambitious pieces and what to expect in the future. Jack Ford with Brian Hendrickson, Champion magazine executive editor, and Amy Wimmer Schwarb, Champion magazine editor.


Gameday the DIII Way

January 8, 2018 | Listen on SoundCloud

Division III members have indicated that fans and parents are often at the root of behavioral and sportsmanship problems during contests. The division formed a working group to help address the problem. That group has, in turn, partnered with the Disney Institute — the company’s leadership development wing — to build a program that provides solutions. Jack Ford with Gary Williams, Wittenberg director of athletics and recreation and chair of the Division III Sportsmanship and Game Environment Working Group.


Finding Common Ground

December 18, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

For several years, administrators from Christian schools have gathered with LGBTQ leaders in the college athletics community to discuss their differences — and to seek similarities. Those difficult discussions have yielded tears and long-standing friendships. A look inside the Common Ground initiative. Jack Ford with Amy Wilson, NCAA director of inclusion.


Who is Mark Emmert?

December 11, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

The NCAA’s president is often heard speaking about the biggest issues in college sports, but who, really, is he? And how did he land the NCAA’s top job? A look at his journey through the world of higher education, including some stops off the beaten path. Jack Ford with Mark Emmert, NCAA president.


Developing Leaders

December 4, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

Student-athlete development staff rarely draw public attention, but play a crucial role. They are tasked with helping prepare college athletes for the lives that await after their playing days and, sometimes, simply serving as a shoulder to cry on. A pair of student-athlete development staffers from Big Ten schools detail their roles — and their goals. Jack Ford with Peyton Owens III, Minnesota associate athletics director for student-athlete development/diversity and inclusion, and Bridget Woodruff, Wisconsin director of student-athlete development.


Inside Division I

November 27, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

What role do college presidents play in making rules in Division I? How has that evolved over the years? And what is the division doing to keep pace with issues in college sports that are evolving at a breakneck pace? An NCAA executive with a front-row seat describes the process. Jack Ford with Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for Division I governance.


Cheering Section

November 20, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

Academic advisors do more than simply help athletes bolster their grades. They’re also mentors, friends and, when grades are posted, student-athletes’ biggest fans. A Champion magazine writer spent time with Tennessee State’s academic advising staff for a Fall 2017 feature story that illustrated how integral the role is to college sports. Jack Ford with Greg Johnson, Champion magazine associate editor.


College Sports Across the Pond

November 13, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

While it’s nearly unheard of for universities overseas to devote resources to college athletics, Japan and a handful of European countries have begun expressing interest in the NCAA’s model. NCAA leaders have spent time sharing the benefits and challenges of tethering competitive sports to higher education. Jack Ford with Mark Emmert, NCAA president.


Lost and Found

November 6, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

Citing financial constraints, the University of Alabama at Birmingham shuttered its football program after the 2014 season. But an outcry from the community — and the tens of millions of dollars of donations that ensued — saved the team. The Blazers returned to the field in 2017. A Champion magazine editor who wrote a Summer 2017 feature story on the program’s resurrection sheds light on the program’s journey back from the brink. Jack Ford with Brian Hendrickson, Champion magazine executive editor.


How the Eligibility Center Works

October 23, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

So you want to be a Division I or II athlete? The first step — other than maintaining solid grades and excelling in your sport — is to sign up with the NCAA Eligibility Center. A step-by-step walkthrough of what young athletes should expect through the process, and background on how it has evolved through the years. Jack Ford with Felicia Martin, NCAA vice president of enforcement.


How the Committee on Infractions Works

October 9, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions is often at the center of major news related to college sports. But who makes up that body? And how does it function? The basics: It is composed of athletics administrators from schools throughout the country and even some members of the public, and is tasked with adjudicating cases argued by NCAA enforcement staff and member schools. In this episode, the committee’s chair describes the process in detail. Greg Christopher, athletics director at Xavier and Division I Committee on Infractions chair, with guest host Cameron Schuh.


Title IX at 45

October 2, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

Forty-five years after landmark legislation was passed that ensured equity in higher education, including athletics, how much progress has been made? An examination of how Title IX came to be and its effect on a generation of young women. Though progress has been made, the road to true equality remains long and winding. Jack Ford with Amy Wilson, NCAA director of inclusion.


The View from Alaska

September 25, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

How do small schools in far-flung locales manage to maintain an athletics program? What logistical and budgetary hurdles do they face? How do student-athletes who take numerous road trips of hundreds of miles balance their obligations to sports and school? An administrator from one of the NCAA’s most remote universities shares how his program tackles those challenges. Jack Ford with Gary Gray, director of athletics at Alaska Fairbanks.


Three Divisions, One Mission

September 18, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

At the highest level of NCAA governance — the NCAA Board of Governors — representatives from all three divisions debate issues and initiatives that can have profound effects on schools at each level. Division I has more seats at the table, but the other two divisions make sure to have their voices heard. A Division III perspective on how the biggest decisions are made. Jack Ford with Alan Cureton, president of Northwestern-St. Paul and vice chair of the Division III Presidents Council.


Open Borders?

September 11, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

Division II welcomed Simon Fraser, a Canadian university, to its ranks via a pilot program in 2012. That program is now permanent, and other international schools have expressed interest in joining the NCAA. Division II is weighing whether to open its doors to schools in Mexico, and some administrators are eager to see international expansion. Jack Ford with Les Wong, president of San Francisco State.


Travel Madness in March

September 4, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

The job of the small team that coordinates travel to the NCAA’s 90 championships is most frenetic in March. They must help ferry men’s and women’s basketball teams — among those from several other sports — through the month’s madness. A dive into the behind-the-scenes chaos and what it takes to ensure everyone reaches their destination before tipoff. Jack Ford with Juanita Sheely, NCAA director of travel and insurance.


Combating Sexual Violence on Campus

August 28, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

As college campuses across the country grapple with incidents of sexual assault, the NCAA Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence is considering college sports’ role in not only preventing sexual violence, but in influencing the culture that amplifies the problem. Jack Ford with Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, co-chair of the commission and superintendent at Army West Point.


Where Are the Women?

August 21, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

In 1972, women coached more than 90 percent of college women’s teams. Today, they coach fewer than half. One Champion magazine reporter was determined to find out why. The answer, she learned, wasn’t simple — nor are the solutions that could reverse the trend. Jack Ford with Champion Assistant Editor Rachel Stark.


How Sports Draw Students

August 14, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

The enrollment of a small college in Michigan has roughly doubled since 2005. How? The new college president invested in athletics facilities and expanded the college’s sports programs, making Adrian more appealing to a wider swath of students. He feels other small colleges struggling to maintain enrollment and stay solvent can adopt similar strategies and details how, precisely, Adrian has transformed in recent years. Jack Ford with Jeff Docking, president of Adrian.


Closing the Race and Gender Gap

August 7, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

College sports suffer from a dearth of minority and female coaches and administrators. A conversation about the obstacles minority candidates face as they seek to climb the ladder and details about programs made available in recent years that help close the gap. Jack Ford with Bernard Franklin, NCAA chief inclusion officer.


Examining College Athletes’ Mental Health

July 31, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

The NCAA Sport Science Institute is tasked with addressing a litany of health and safety concerns — concussions and cardiac health among them. But the group’s principal challenge? Mental health. A discussion about how difficulties with mental health can affect college athletes and what services some schools are offering to help. Jack Ford with Dr. Brian Hainline, NCAA chief medical officer.


Coming Out in the South

July 24, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

An openly gay college administrator from Mississippi reflects on the difficulties he faced growing up the South, how he came to find acceptance in the world of higher education and how those experiences help him relate to college athletes and other students today. Jack Ford with Brit Katz, Millsaps vice president of student life and dean of students.


How NCAA Enforcement Works

July 17, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

The NCAA’s enforcement division is often derided by college sports fans after major penalties are handed down to schools found to have violated the rules. But what, really, is the group’s role? And how does it function? The department’s leader delivers a step-by-step breakdown of the process. Jack Ford with Jon Duncan, NCAA vice president of enforcement.


The Quest to Understand Concussions

July 10, 2017 | Listen on SoundCloud

In 2014, the NCAA and Department of Defense launched the largest concussion study in history. Slated to continue for years, perhaps decades, the CARE Consortium study has enrolled nearly 30,000 athletes and cadets at colleges and military academies across the country. One of the study’s primary investigators examines researchers’ preliminary findings, the significant questions they hope to answer — and how they plan to get there. Jack Ford with Tom McAllister, CARE Consortium principal investigator and chair of the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.