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Strong Out of the Gate

Former Division I Council chair reflects on group’s achievements

By Jim Phillips

Jim Phillips, Northwestern athletics director

During the past two years, it has been my honor to serve as the inaugural chair of the NCAA Division I Council. Reflecting on my term, which came to an end in April, I am incredibly proud of all the group has accomplished.

Our purpose across college athletics is to improve the experience our student-athletes have as undergraduates and prepare them for success after graduation. We have made great strides since we started this new governance structure in January 2015:

  • The student-athlete voice is heard at every level in Division I, including the highest one, the Board of Directors.
  • Student-athletes have more time to pursue interests outside competition.
  • Students who compete in men’s basketball have stronger opportunities to test their ability to be drafted by the NBA.
  • Prospective student-athletes in football and women’s basketball have new, better opportunities during the recruiting process.
  • Financial awareness tools have been made widely available.
  • Academic misconduct rules are defined more clearly.

These accomplishments were possible only because of a team effort. We owe a debt of gratitude to the chairs of the Council standing committees for their diligent work to improve intercollegiate athletics. Specifically, I want to recognize Keith Gill, Council vice chair and Richmond athletics director; Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky athletics director; Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference commissioner; Don Oberhelman, Cal Poly athletics director; Dan Guerrero, UCLA athletics director; Sandy Hatfield Clubb, Drake athletics director; Bob Scalise, Harvard athletics director; and Jean Lenti Ponsetto, DePaul athletics director.

The Council is in excellent hands under the guidance of new chair Blake James, Miami (Florida) athletics director, and vice chair Ponsetto.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Council chair. It has been one of the most humbling honors of my career.

Jim Phillips, Northwestern athletics director, completed his term in April as chair of the Division I Council.

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.