Division I board asks membership to help streamline structure
By Michelle Brutlag Hosick
Nathan Hatch, chair of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, believes it's important that members actively engage in discussions at January's convention about the future of Division I governance.
The Division I Board of Directors wants a more transparent, responsive, participative and streamlined governance structure, and it wants the Division I membership to help them design it.
The board met Aug. 8 in Indianapolis, spending several hours discussing the ongoing review and the findings of an outside consultant sent to gather input from a broad cross-section of Division I members about the decision-making structures, the legislative process and the culture of participation within the governance structure.
“The NCAA is a member organization. It’s important that all voices be heard,” said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, chair of the board of directors. “There is wide agreement that the NCAA governance process needs to be improved. What the outcome will be is not determined yet, but it’s important that the governance system reflect the best interests of the membership.”
Hatch and Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon, chair of the NCAA Executive Committee, noted that a session held in conjunction with the 2014 NCAA Convention, and designed as part of the governance review process, is intended to draw wide member participation into conversations around how to make those improvements.
The two-day session, to which representatives from every Division I school have been invited, will engage the full range of Division I stakeholders in open and collaborative conversations about Division I governance structure and processes, and is designed to build consensus around possible options. The event is expected to be a milestone in the conversation about governance, with final solutions to come within a year.
The board’s discussions centered on six key focus areas for the membership to consider in advance of the January event:
- How Division I should be structured;
- How the cabinet/committee/council structure should be redefined;
- How to ensure membership empowerment, involvement , and access to the governance system;
- How the Division I board should be structured and how it should function;
- How to redefine the role of the executive committee as a more vital vehicle for association-wide discussions;
- How the national office staff can best partner with the membership;
Wright State president David Hopkins believes the current reform discussions can change some perceptions of college sports.
Ideas for Action, LLC consultant Jean Frankel, who has spent the last eight months meeting with Division I members within and outside of the governance structure, shared some possible guiding principles for the discussion. These include maximizing the current structures when possible, seeking the right balance between unique needs and common interests and ensuring the conversations are collaborative and consensus-building. Discussions have already begun among several membership groups, and momentum is growing.
“This is a critical time for college sports,” Simon said. “The executive committee and our governance colleagues across the association are committed to ensuring we collectively operate with the integrity and well-being of our student-athletes at the fore front of everything we do.”
Moving forward, the initial focus will be on the three areas most pertinent to the membership (governance structure, membership structure and involvement), as well as the role of the Executive Committee. The discussions about board and staff leadership will be ongoing.
The board members will discuss the review at their next meeting in October.
Subcommittee forms to study for-profit institutions
The NCAA Executive Committee on Wednesday formed a special subcommittee to examine approaches to accommodate for-profit institutions that are members of the Association.
Five current NCAA institutions are known to hold for-profit tax status, including Grand Canyon, which is entering its first year of a transition from Division II membership to Division I. The other three are current members of Division II.
The Executive Committee’s action came after the Division I Board of Directors referred questions to the committee about the inclusion of for-profit members. The Executive Committee determined that it needed to further study the issue of how for-profit institutions receive member benefits.