Today began NCAA President Mark Emmert‘s two day university president/chancellor retreat in Indianapolis to discuss some of the pressing issues facing college athletics.
And given our most recent summer of slime, the issues are abundant. However, Emmert hopes to begin implementing changes and solutions that more adequately fit the needs in today’s game within a matter of months, not years.
“I think there was a real common sense that we need to do some big things,” Oregon State president Edward Ray told the Associated Press. “There can’t just be a thousand incremental changes. We need to think about what are the three or four major changes that we need to make. We need to have a group put a package together, think it through and present it to the Division I board, and then have the board vote it up or down.’
“Don’t come back with a lot of recommendations that will go into the legislative process for another two years. Give us some meat to chew on and work it over thoughtfully and let’s decide over the next several months what we are going to do differently.”
Some items on the bill:
- Full cost of attendance. Clearly, this has been one of the most intriguing problems facing revenue-producing athletics, from presidents down to student-athletes. The idea is sexy enough, but it’s a legal and financial nightmare to accomplish. As of the last fiscal year, only 22 Division 1-A programs were self-sustaining, and no program is about to start increasing student fees just to pay athletes more than the average college kid. How universities will crunch the numbers will be interesting to figure out. SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany have noted that the idea isn’t for everybody.
- It is interesting to note, however, that the “full cost of attendance” model could be tied to academic performance. Multi-year scholarships could be rewarded on a similar basis.
- Going a bit further, you can eliminate the pay-for-play notion. Emmert shot that down about as quickly as he could. Revenue producing college sports are evolving, but the NCAA will never willingly move away from the idea of de-amateurizing them — even though there are plenty of reasons to suspect sports like college football are already beyond an amateur sport.
- As mentioned above, the idea of multi-year scholarships has been gaining some momentum since Slive made them part of his four-pronged agenda for change during SEC Media Days. For one, it limits a coach’s ability to perform, ahem, “roster management” each year to his liking. Secondly, good performance in the classroom could help an athlete keep his scholarship beyond the current one-year contract model.
All these suggestions are designed to try and balance modernization with classical ideals of higher education. It’s a tough compromise to reach, but the idea right now is to come up with a handful of feasible options to legitimately pursue rather than 100 ideas that will become so tangled nothing gets done.
The retreat ends tomorrow, and we’ll have a Day Two wrap-up for you as well.