Division I Board Adopts Strategic Agenda

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick | NCAA.org | October 29, 2015


The Division I Board of Directors on Thursday approved a two-year strategic agenda, providing for the first time a roadmap that will help Division I schools navigate what issues will be considered and when.

The board will tackle high-level issues, as intended when the governance structure was redesigned in 2014. On its plate for the next year will be the initial activities of two working groups formed after the Division I Strategic Summit in August: the values-based revenue distribution and sport organizational structure working groups. Other priorities for 2015-16 will be amateurism and the Division I collegiate model of athletics, budget priorities, a review of the governance structure and communication strategies.

In 2016-17, the board members will evaluate final recommendations from the two working groups, continue discussions on amateurism and the governance structure and oversee the early stages of a review of enforcement issues.

“We have a clearly articulated vision for the immediate future in Division I,” said chair Harris Pastides, president of the University of South Carolina, Columbia. “We hope the agenda helps presidents, athletics administrators, faculty and students be more engaged in the governance of the division. We all must work together as one division to make progress for our students.”

The strategic agenda outlines the most pressing issues for each of the four major governance bodies in Division I and assigns a timeline for completion over the next two years. Groups included in the plan are the board and, also from Division I, the Presidential Forum, the Council and the Committee on Academics.

Board members believe that setting an agenda and making it clear when issues will be discussed will help people who work in Division I prepare for and participate in the conversation, leading to better decisions. The agenda also will provide some accountability for the board to move issues along through the process.The Presidential Forum, a new group with presidential representation from each Division I conference, will provide the board with input and advice on a number of strategic areas. In its first meeting Wednesday, the group identified these priorities: health and safety initiatives, the new Division I governance structure, the impact of cost of attendance, and trends in funding, enrollment and participation. The forum members also will work on a set of best practices for presidential colleagues.

The Council has the most expansive agenda, with nearly two dozen issues to oversee through 2016-17. Most issues are student-focused, especially in the first year:

  • Time demands and financial literacy for students.
  • Financial aid issues and cost of attendance implementation.
  • Transfers/graduate student expectations.
  • Health and safety initiatives.
  • Sports wagering.
  • Successful implementation of autonomy and shared governance models.
  • Budget priorities.
  • Amateurism.

In 2016-17, the focus on students continues but also includes a review of many championship and sport-specific issues:

  • Preparing college athletes for life after their sport/translating skills learned through athletics.
  • Changes in rules governing former student-athletes who wish to return to college.
  • Changes in rules regarding access to information for college athletes with professional aspirations.
  • Comprehensive review of football issues.
  • Two-year review of governance structure.
  • Review of enforcement.
  • Amateurism.
  • Student-athlete experience at championships.
  • Financial review of the women’s basketball championship.
  • Review overall cost of championships and sport committee structure.
  • Review of automatic qualifier standards.
  • Review of Association-wide committees and the need for Division I-specific versions.
  • Potential changes to football, men’s and women’s basketball playing rules process, structure and competition committee approach.

The Committee on Academics has a number of things it will oversee in the first year, including:

  • Academic integrity legislation.
  • Academic standards for students who have graduated.
  • Providing high-performing students with additional flexibility in eligibility rules.
  • Assistance for limited-resource schools and historically black colleges and universities in meeting Academic Performance Program initiatives.
  • Academic Performance Program policies (awarding the retention point to all students who have graduated and making adjustments for transfer students with high grade-point averages).
  • Assessment of the Accelerating Academic Success Program, which provides funds for limited-resource schools to improve the academic performance of student-athletes.

In 2016-17, the committee members will tackle pre-enrollment academic misconduct and issues surrounding the implementation of new initial-eligibility standards, set for August 2016.

For the first time, the board also approved a policies and procedures handbook for itself. Members specifically endorsed a policy clarifying that board members are expected to act in the best interest of the entire division when making decisions at the board level, with appropriate input from the conference or representing entity, subdivision or other compelling interest.

The board members also heard initial reports from the working groups formed after the Division I Strategic Summit in August. Both the values-based revenue distribution group and the sport organizational structure group have had one conference call each and are in the early stages of identifying issues for further discussion.

The revenue distribution group began to frame some important questions to consider over the next year, including how to make academics a factor in revenue distribution. The group did not have an interest in a complete overhaul of the current model, but instead will consider adjustments that relate to the division’s core values.

Meanwhile, the sport organizational structure group will identify key characteristics of all Division I members and find where some flexibility in membership requirements might exist that would still allow a school to be a part of the division. Members will focus on improving the student experience and increasing participation opportunities.

The board meets next in January at the 2016 NCAA Convention at San Antonio. The meeting includes a session with the Presidential Forum, the chief advisory group to the board that includes presidential representation from all 32 Division I conferences.


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