NCAA board supports keeping Division I intact and adopts football recruiting, summer access rules

October 31, 2013


NCAA board supports keeping Division I intact
The NCAA said on October 30, 2013 that a further splintering of its top level appears unlikely, as many presidents and athletic directors support keeping Division I together.


By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

No matter what the new structure of Division I looks like in the future, the Board of Directors determined Wednesday, October 30, 2013 the format will be built around the core value that intercollegiate athletics is an integral part of higher education.

The presidents empowered a subcommittee to develop some alternative plans the membership can discuss at the Division I Governance Dialogue, to be held Jan. 16-17 in conjunction with the NCAA Convention in San Diego.

The concepts will be based on the feedback received from a wide variety of people who brought their ideas to the board during a meeting on Tuesday. In addition, the steering committee will consider input from the Division I Leadership Council and results from a membership survey. That survey remains open until Nov. 15.

“(The discussion) was very productive,” board chair Nathan Hatch, president at Wake Forest University, said. “There’s a lot of unity in what the NCAA is about.”

One point on which the board members agreed: Any new structure must emphasize how athletics help prepare student-athletes for success after college.

The board agreed with many of the key elements identified in Tuesday’s conversation with other stakeholders, including:

  • The preference of most people, including athletics directors and presidents, is to remain together in a single division. This would include an altered rules-making process that allows some flexibility for schools to make decisions in the interest of their student-athletes. Board members continue to believe that presidents should lead the division.
  • The board should be more focused on overarching strategy and vision for the division and less focused on day-to-day operational activities.
  • A more transparent, fast-moving, streamlined and simple governance process is needed.
  • Representation within the governance structure on all groups will continue to be an important factor, with an ideal model including a broad swath of voices from within – and possibly outside – the membership. Re-engaging athletics directors and solidifying the role of student-athletes were top concerns.

Most likely, Hatch said, Division I will remain intact. The idea of subdividing isn’t completely off the table, he acknowledged, but most schools seem committed to maintaining the strength of a whole Division I.

“We haven’t foreclosed any option, but there was general agreement that we will try to stay together as a single division,” he said. “The magic will be if the division can come up with certain ways larger, more-resourced institutions can have a degree of flexibility.”

Over the next several months, the steering committee will continue to collect feedback and begin to develop plans in preparation for the Division I Governance Dialogue in January. Depending on what happens at that meeting, the steering committee will either develop more concrete proposals for consideration or continue to collect feedback and seek consensus around new ideas.

“No one was trying to come up with answers today or argue that one proposal was superior to others,” said Brian Shannon, faculty athletics representative at Texas Tech University and president of the Division IA Faculty Athletics Representatives. Shannon presented his groups’ ideas to the board on Tuesday.

“I was really encouraged,” he said. “There was really good rapport, a desire to figure it out and work together. I’m optimistic that we’re on the right track. This was a good step.”

This period of time is critical for Division I, Hatch said.

“There is a tremendous commitment to and goodwill about college athletics and the NCAA,” he said. “I am impressed at how many people want to enliven the NCAA and make it more vital for the core purposes for which it was established a century ago.”

NCAA Steering Committee

The steering committee, a subcommittee of the board, will guide the formation of concepts for governance redesign over the next several months and lead a division-wide discussion of the ideas in January.

Steering committee members are:

Nathan Hatch, board chair and president at Wake Forest University

Rita Cheng, chair of the Presidential Advisory Group and chancellor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

Gene Block, president of the University of California, Los Angeles

Michael Drake, chancellor of the University of California, Irvine

David Leebron, president of Rice University

Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina

Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University

Division I adopts football recruiting, summer access rules

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

The Division I Board of Directors on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 adopted five new football recruiting rules, including one that will allow football coaches increased access to student-athletes in the summer. The measures are effective immediately for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The new rules emerged after months of research into recruiting issues identified by football coaches. That research included surveys of both student-athletes and coaches and was conducted by a subcommittee of the division’s Leadership Council.

Both the Legislative Council and the Leadership Council endorsed the changes. Both groups are comprised of representatives from all 32 Division I conferences, with the difference that the Leadership Council focuses on broader issues.

The new rules:

  • Allow football student-athletes to participate in preparations for the season during an eight-week period each summer. Those weeks can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review. Student-athletes who participate in the summer activities must be enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks. The model is similar to those adopted by men’s and women’s basketball in the last two years. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported this change.
  • Prohibit a school’s staff members from attending an all-star game or activities associated with those games and from having in-person contact with recruits participating in the games from the time the recruit arrives at the event until he returns to his home or school. Both FBS and FCS supported this ban.
  • Establish a dead period when no in-person recruiting can take place. The dead period, scheduled to coincide with winter holidays and the annual American Football Coaches Association convention, begins the Monday of the week in which mid-year junior college transfers can begin signing the National Letter of Intent. It ends the Wednesday of the week of the AFCA convention. For 2013-14, Dec. 16 through Jan. 15 is now a dead period. The FBS supported this proposal, but the FCS did not because its coaches need more time to discuss it. Army and Navy may seek a temporary exception from this new rule if the date of this season’s game makes it difficult for them to follow it.
  • Establish a 14-day dead period in late June and early July for Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
  • Allow schools to pay for meals for up to four family members who accompany a recruit on an official visit. Before this change, schools could pay for the recruit and his parents, legal guardians, spouse or children, but excluded siblings and other family members. This approach provides schools more flexibility to address each recruit’s specific family situation. Both the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions supported making the rule more flexible.

Those who recommended the changes believe they will promote a healthy recruiting environment for both recruits and football coaches. They also believe the changes will help protect the integrity of the recruiting process.

In other business, the board asked the Leadership Council to study the issue of online courses and whether heavy reliance on such courses is appropriate for student-athletes.

The current rules outline how online courses can be counted for both full-time enrollment requirements and progress-toward-degree standards. Some presidents noted the importance of student-athletes establishing a physical presence in the classroom, but others said student-athletes should have the same opportunities that are available to other students.

And, in a nod toward all the Division I structure discussion that is expected to take center stage at the Division I Dialogue in January, the presidents also extended the terms for conference representatives whose tenures were about to expire. The suspension will allow people currently serving to continue their roles while a new Division I structure is developed, eliminating the need for conferences to develop new slates of representatives while the plans for Division I are in transition.

Video: Division I student-athletes who entered college in 2006 earned their degrees at a rate of 82 percent – the highest ever


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