JUNIOR/COMMUNITY COLLEGES - PRESIDENTS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE
(Tuesday, June 9, 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.)
I'd like to begin. I'm Bob Bottger from Indian River Community College. I just want to take
about two minutes to make a couple of comments before I introduce our guest speakers for today. Some of your are new to this organization and some of you have been here and are a little bit more familiar with it. You have four representatives to the NACDA Executive Committee; they are chosen through a process at NACDA by a predetermined, geographical designation. As an example, some of our California guests may feel that they don't have representation, but California is included in a region that is serviced by Art Becker.
One thing that your current four representatives are extremely interested in is getting as many people involved as possible. We ask, we implore you to take the time to come see us during this Convention, or drop us a line when you go home in terms of potential topic areas and/or presenters. Do not be bashful if you would like to be considered to be a presenter for next year on any topic.
List multiple topics if you so desire, because one of our major tasks in February is to get together for a couple of days and formulate the Convention and the sessions that we have for community/junior college folks.
Sometimes we feel that our people probably want to be a part of some presentation, such as
on steroids this morning, so we do not schedule another session opposite that. We pick and choose
our time slots and then we try to fill in with presenters and topics. But please, we want new people
to get involved in that process. We would like to try to get you involved for a few minutes before the luncheon in terms of getting a little direction before we leave today.
I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to moderate this session with Presidents Blue Ribbon Committee on Athletics. I think oftentimes in our particular situations there's a trickle-down effect from what I call the big boys of the NCAA. The Chronicle of Higher Education often has articles on what's going on with the big boys, and I think sometimes our presidents see the presidents of the four-year schools doing something and, without thinking, they just like to jump in and start reacting and running, because they think they should be doing something. We need to know how they're feeling, what they're thinking. If we're to survive, we need to stay at least a half a step ahead, so that
we're giving direction as opposed to reaction. Today, our two presenters are going to flip-flop back and forth here. If I may, I'll introduce both of them, and then we'll begin. Walter Rilliet is Commissioner of Athletics for the California Association of Community Colleges. He went through the community college system to receive a degree from the City College of San Francisco and then a master's degree from San Francisco State College and his administrative credentials from Stanford University. He has been most cooperative and receptive to our goals within NACDA, and supports what we're trying to work toward throughout the country. Hank Witt is with the NJCAA, and serves in a position as
vice president for men. He is the vice president for student affairs at Iowa Central Community College. He also serves on the United States Olympic Committee, for United States Wrestling and the United
States Sports Council. He received his degrees from Ambrose College, Colorado State University and Iowa State University. We're going to begin with Mr. Hank Witt.
If you've not picked up the set of materials that were produced from the Ad Hoc Study Committee, you might want to do so. About three years ago the NJCAA surveyed all the presidents of the member
colleges, trying to get their feelings as to their perceptions of how eligibility should go. The
results of that survey said that they wanted to go in the direction of annual eligibility. We moved that way then in 1986. Last summer, it became apparent that we had created a firestorm, and the presidents were perceiving the change to annual eligibility as being a diminishment of the academic standards that we were requesting in terms of eligibility.
It had also become apparent that the whole picture of atheltics is changing. You pick that up very rapidly as you go to the sessions out here and listen to the discussion on substance abuse, drug abuse, the street drugs,.the enhancement drugs. All of us that are involved in the administration of athletic programs are becoming aware that the game is changing and changing very rapidly, and that we're being dictated to over a number of different things. All of this has changed athletics. We're less and less involved with the rules of the sport, as we are with the outside influences that impinge upon it.
The NJCAA had, at about the same time that the presidents were beginning to become upset with
us, also organized what was known as a strategic planning committee. We'd established this eleven-person committee. There were five presidents from member colleges, four regional directors and the three of us who make up the administration of the NJCAA. We had begun to look at some of the problems that were
facing us. Eligibility was one of the problems, obviously, but there were others. There was the problem of governance. The problem of substance abuse. The problem of the length of the athletic season, the number of games that teams were participating in during the year. So, all of this became a factor of concern. The NJCAA organized an ad hoc committee. Walt Rilliet was on it, Vin Cullen, who is one of the officers of NACDA, was on it, and I was on it.
We met last September in Chicago and out of that meeting prepared a survey. The chair of the committee was Hal McAninch, who is the president of Du Page College in Du Page, Illinois. We surveyed the entire membership of the AACJC, 969 colleges. The presidents returned the survey, then in December we met once again and formulated the recommendations and conclusions that were a part of that.
At the same time the NJCAA was working at that, we came up with a model. In fact, we did amend our constitution in March of the past year at our annual meeting inDalla~ and placed four CEOs on
the Board of Directors of the NJCAA. We said to the AACJC, "you select these four presidents. We're not going to be involved in their selection. You select them. You notify us as to who they are." The only parameters we put on it were that we wanted one president from the northeast, one from the southeast, one from the central part of the United States and one from the western part.
The NJCAA accepted that particular model of governance, and they're in the process now of selecting their four CEOs. These presidents will be charged with the responsibility to keep the member colleges within their district informed of the legislative proposals that are occurring each year within the
NJCAA. In addition to that, we also made some changes in principle in terms of our eligibility. We'll talk about that a little later on, but I want you to recognize first of all that the changes were in principle. Our Constitution says that we will address eligibility on the even years only. So this
past spring, we could not address the changes within our rules of eligibility. They will be addressed next year, and I think we'll pick these up. Walt, Vinnie and I, as I said, were on this committee, and you have a copy of the conclusions and recommendations that were determined. Our plan is that we will go through these, discuss each one, and feel free to ask whatever questions you care to as we go through.
If you look at the peach section versus the brown section in the material, you'll see the committee's conclusions. It-'s important to take a look at the second page after the letter of introduction, and look at the makeup of the committee. There are 10 people on the committee and three of us were
ex officio. I think it's clear as to why Henry was in there as ex officio. If you also look at the makeup of the 10 voting members on the group, there are six CEOs:- That automatically told us from the beginning that we're probably going to get something that would be of the interest to the CEOs, as a major outcome of the group.
Hal McAriinch at College of Du Page is a very strong leader in the community col~ege movement in the United States. And among the AACJC, he and Rosco Brown are two very, very strong community and
junior college administrators, and they were strong from the very beginning. I'm not sure that there weren't agendas already established when we got together. Rosco is the chairman of the American Education Association Committee on Athletics and is really looked upon as a person who is a leader in this field.
I think it's too bad that the women didn't take a more active part, because I don't know how it is where you are, but the women are a very strong force in our association, and rightfully so. We try to accommodate their needs. Roger and I more or less felt ourselves as being staff. Hank got into the action a little bit more, because the questions really dealt with the NJCAA kinds of activities. It's amazing to know how many various kinds of two-yearcolleges there are. In the state of California, our community colleges are in the 18,000-20,000 attendance range. There's a heck of a lot of students that attend community and junior colleges and technical institutions across the United States, and when you've got 969 of them, that's a very broad spectrum of the population of the United States.
The first recommendation, which is listed on page three, was that the committee, AACJC and NJCAA, jointly work to obtain greater CEO involvement in the formation of policies related to intercollegiate athletics. From our standpoint in the state of California, if we neglect the CEOs we're in deep trouble. Basically, we believe that the college presidents are the athletic directors. Now, it's up to us to have them delegate the authority for the program to us. But I think that I agree completely with what Bob said in his opening remarks, that if someone at USC or Michigan State or Notre Dame is being called upon to be the athletic director, then someone at our community colleges is going to think that they have to do that, too. As long as we don't do the job as athletic administrators, then th'e
presidents are going to have to come and take over. We have five CEOs on our 20-person board and the chair is a CEO, and I think that Hank has already alluded as to how the NJCAA is going to incorporate the CEOs.
In recommendation two, there are some real crucial items dealing with the CEO board's purpose
being to separately review upcoming rule and eligibility changes and make direct recommendations to region CEOs. That means that the CEOs will not only review what we do but also take a look at it before. If it doesn't ge through the CEOs before, it may never get to the floor. That's very dangerous. I don't know how in your structure you see that occurring.
It's my feeling that with the placement of the four presidents on our Board of Directors that
this issue is going to be changed. Always in the past, as a part of the NJCAA, we have sent out to all of the colleges the legislative package. But the presidents felt that they weren't addressing
these issues. So with these four presidents nowon the Board of Directors, they are charged with the responsibility of keeping the membership in their areas informed as to what the legislative package is. So, the presidents in your colleges are going to be receiving information from two directions. They're going to be receiving it as a normal mailing to all the colleges. And they also should be receiving from the AACJA a mailing of information that deals with the same thing.
It's up to these four presidents, then, to keep that membership involved and participating. Whether they will or not, time is going to tell that to us.
Does anybody have any questions or comments on the first two items before we move on to number three?
FROM THE FLOOR:
I'd like to comment. Of the four president. one will be on the Eligibility Committee and one will on the Executive Committee of the NJCAA.
FROM THE FLOOR:
How long do the presidents serve?
A two-year term. They are being appointed right now by Larry Tyree, who is the president of Gulf Coast Community College and also the incoming chair of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges. He, along with Jan LaCroix, the current executive director of the AACJC, Hal McAninch and Rosco. are making the appointments .
I felt, and Vinny and Hank, that the CEOs were very sympathetic and supportive of community college athletics. I didn't get an idea from the group that we met with that they were against athletics. They felt that there was a certain decorum that needed to be attained by our community college
athletes. But I didn't see anybody saying that we were going to do away with this program, which I heard some of you saying yesterday, that you felt there was a diminishing of the program. I think
these folks were on our side, but they felt as though there needed to be clear direction or we were going to be taken over by a group of CEOs.
FROM THE FLOOR:
The thing they emphasized the most is they wanted involvement from the CEOs in some of the rules that were being made. They wanted to have some kind of a voice, to at least know what was going
on, which is an opportunity they have because the NJCAA sends them all the information. Theyadmitted they get it but they never read it, so they wanted some mechanism that forces them to do so. I think that's what they were looking for.
FROM THE FLOOR:
Hank, you might tell them who is on our Strategic Planning Committee, which presidents and why they were there.
When we put the Strategic Planning Committee together, we selected five presidents. Rosco Brown
is one of them. I mentioned earlier he is co-chair of this adhoc committee. A woman from Worthington Community College in Worthington, Minnesota, Joanne Perts served on the committee. It's kind of difficult to find a woman CEO who has any understanding at all of activities in athletics, but she did a good job. In addition to that, we had Bob Richberg (SIC) from Florida, who is very, very active in the Florida Activities Association as a president; Bill Tampion from Texas, who's now in Florida,
and Harry Miller from Paul Smith's College in Paul Smiths, New York. We had place him on to make sure that we had a private, independent college represented. It's kind of interesting, also, that Harry Miller from Paul Smith's College is one of the four CEOs who are going to be going on to the Board of Directors. So we are recognizing a group of colleges that are private or independent and we're trying to make sure that they are recognized within this organization.
One thing came up very quickly to show you the emphasis of the committee was number six, dealing with part-time students. It was a big tempest right off the bat at the start of the meeting. How
could part-time students be eligible for athletics? It was very clear that the majority of the people
in the room didn't understand what that was. Once it was explained how the person, to be eligible, had
to be a committed part-time student, this issue was quickly defused. Within the first 20 minutes of our first meeting, one of the biggest issues that created the task force itself was defused by an explanation of the rule and the reason for it. I got a kick out of that, because we thought that every part-time student that ever walked on a campus could be eligible now, and we'd have nothing but part-timers
playing athletics and not doing anything academically. Well, when we thought out the restrictions, as in number six, a part-timer is almost never going to be eligible, but there is that one or two.
We had approximately 44,000 athletes participate and out of those 44,000, there were 11 who qualified under the part-time rule, six men and five women. That's .02 participation.
My reason for pointing that story out was that all of a sudden, here comes a national body that creates an ad hoc committee to redo a whole bunch of rules when, in fact, there was a logic behind it.
I don't know how you get communications input out to the field in the establishment of rules and regulations, but in California, we're fortunate. We have a state that is clearly defined in relation- ship to conferences. For instance, every year before we have a meeting of our Commission on Athletics, my office will send out a questionnaire which will have a situation, a 'question and a~ answer. For instance, a typical situation would be: the powers that we believe that student-atheltes are making too little academic progress in the California community colleges. The question would be: do you believe a 2.0 grade point average should be established to allow students to continue to participate? Each college would answer that through their conference, and then we'd have the conference commissioners report back as a vote by the colleges on that specific topic. Another topic would be whether 36 games were too many in baseball, or whether a season should start on the first weekend in September or the third weekend in September. If they didn't answer, then they had to be quiet, because they didn't take the time to make themselves available.
I have no idea how you could implement that on a national level, but it may be a way that you want
to look at. It has been successful. Bob Dinaberg is the president of our Athletic Directors Association, and I think that this has been successful in allowing the field to have an opportunity to express
their opinions. We had a situation a year ago where the vote was overwhelmingly no. We didn't want
to implement the rule. And our Code Committee, which does those kinds of things, decided not to do it. There have been situations where our Code Committee has implemented rules when the vote was overwhelmingly against the rule, but I think the process of getting people to get into these things is very important.
Recommendation three is kind of interesting, because if you take the total, about 75 percent of the response said that there should be a single national governing board. But if you break it by state, the California responses were very solid in the fact that they were not interested in this separation. There are a lot of logical reasons for this. It may well be that there are some areas where the two associations have some common meeting grounds, but we also have some disparities. The state of California by itself, with its conferences, is a kind of nice, neat package. They're not involved with some of the travel problems that we're faced with. I was talking with Swede this morning
and he was talking about a regional playoff in basketball a few years ago where a team traveled 1,300 miles in his region to get to that playing site. As an organization, the NJCAA has areas, regions
that are very tight,very compact. In the urban areas, in terms of travel, it isn't much of a problem. Then you look the other way and get out in the western part of the United States, and you're talking
of traveling 1,300 miles to participate in a regional tournament. If you win that, then you probably are going to travel another 1,000 miles to an interregional playoff, and from that, conceivably on to a national tournament. So travel can become a great factor for us.
Yes, it really is a factor. In trying to review the history of our association and the NJCAA from what written material I could find, having been the commissioner since 1981, it seems that back in the fifties, when the NJCAA originated here in the California, it originated in an attempt to find national championships. In the first couple of years, it turned out to be California teams playing California teams for the national championship somewhere else. The idea that California has all the answers and the most outstanding athletic teams is no longer a viable reason for us not being a part of the NJCAA. We struggle just like you folks do, and our athletes are comparable as yours are to us. We don't feel we have all the answers. Our biggest problem, quite honestly, is the cost of traveling outside the
state of California for a statewide competition or for national competition. We can get enough competition through our 96 colleges in the state of California to satisfy the most ego-involved coach or administrator or college.
Now, I think if we said tomorrow that we would participate in national championships, then there would be coaches and colleges that would take an active part in this kind of thing. But right now
in the state of California, the large majority of people are satisfied to participate in our activities within the state. We can reach our maximums. I talked with Roger Raepple from the Florida association at length about this topic. There just isn't enough competition amongst those 28 colleges in Florida because of the divergence in the nature of programs within those colleges. They still have to rely
on the NJCAA for competition outside of their state. We don't have to in California. We have 1,400,000 students and 96 athletic programs. We can fill a full season of practice and conference and post-season play to be satisfied.
There ought to be a two-year athletics association so we could get together and do things, but a national championship wasn't the answer. In other words, competition was out of it. That's one I hadn't heard before. I don't remember which one of you folks said that, but if we could get out the word "national" out of the organization, then maybe more people would participate, attack the problems that are on the last page, for the good of all community and junior colleges and technical institutes that only deal with two-year programs. Maybe if we just called it that, we might be able to pull together, along the lines of your Athletic Directors Associaton idea yesterday to meet all our needs. Our rules and regulations aren't that much differenct. I don't think anybody is gaining an advantage by one state over another. Now, I may be wrong, because we only deal with California, but we don't have any scholarships in the state of California. We don't have a problem with scholarships or letter of intent. But maybe take the competition part out of it and just look at the governance. That might be a way to go.
FROM THE FLOOR:
I think the national competition may get taken out whether we want to or not, just because of finances. You have a travel problem; I'm right in the middle of the United States and it's a problem. We talked about it considerably at the Legislative Assembly this year. We've got decreasing participal at the national level with respect to numbers and schools, in some sports.
But still, our problems are similar. All of a sudden you begin to hear of more colleges, more states that aren't in the NJCAA than are. And yet our problems are similar. So maybe we take the competition point of view out and just deal with our other problems, and maybe that's the way to go. Maybe that's a way to implement number three. I don't know.
FROM THE FLOOR:
Of course, I understand the big problems of financing the national tournaments, and we were
involved in three this year. For us, it cost $18,000, so that'sa big problem for us. The other big problem that we're faced with, and I'm sure that Henry and Swede are certainly aware of it, is the people that host national tournaments. It is getting to the point, for some of our national tournaments that nobody wants them because of the cost and difficulties involved.
One of the big critical issues of hosting tournaments anymore becomes the issue of insurance do you ensure to protect yourself? That's a problem.
I think what we're doing here is getting down to what we want to discuss, that is, a possible national organization, and we're getting a little bit into a different kind of discussion. Our objective here is to find out what the presidents are thinking, because we've got to outfox them. I think what we're getting into now is how we're thinking.
Number four was the academic issue. I know in California we're never going to go below a 2.0. I'll tell you what happened in the high schools in California. The legislature passed a 2.0 rule; everybody in California high schools has to have a 2.0 to particpate. If we don't maintain a 2.0 rule in the community colleges in the state of California, the Legislature will pass one that we'll have to follow. So I think number four speaks to reasonable progress towards a degree.
Just one last point is that I got a call from a member of our board of governors in the state of California. which is an oppointed group and it doesn't have anything to do with athletics. She called me and said. "It's our understanding that your student-athletes are all taking physical education classes and are not matriculating normally. We as a board would like to implement rules and regulations that would call for student-athletes to take X number of so-called academic courses and y number
of physical education courses to satisfy your 24 units. your 2.0. and your 12 units during the season requirements." So I'm now in the process of attempting to write her to explain what our academic quality rules are. But the board was strong on number four about academic quality. I just personally believe if we in California ever go below a 2.0. it would be the end of us from that standpoint.
I think you'll find the NJCAA is going to pass and that we will be at a 2.0 next year. It's very interesting that the University of Maryland is going to raise the minimum grade point requirements for athletic eligibility from a 1.28 to a 1.70 for freshmen, from 1.63 to 1.85 for sophomores, and from
1.83 to 2.0 for the rest of an athlete's career. I think a year from now we'll be looking at a term-by- term 12-hour and requirement 2.0 with one exception. That is, in the enrolling term for a student-athlete there may be flexibility so you could increase the GPA but decrease the minimum number of hours that they might pass. In other words, 12 hours at a 2.0, or possibly nine at a 3.0. That gives a little
bit of flexibility to that first-time student who may be having difficulty. For first-semester, full- time students to particpate, they're going to be carrying 12 hours and must achieve a 2.0. But the ad hoc committee talked about the possibility these kids may have a difficulty, and that you might
want to consider increasing the GPA for them. If they get fewer hours, they could still be an avenue. I'm not saying that will pass, but that's the proposal. Yes?
FROM THE FLOOR
Once again, this is total credits attempted, or best 12?
WALTER RILLIETT: -
I think you'll find that the feeling of the NJCAA is it's their best hours
Ours is cumulative once they have participated. Our people say that until we get them under OUJ wing, we can't do much with them. Once they participate, then it's a cumulative 2.0 from the first time they've participated.
I was contacted by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletes because they want to make an effort to be involved in California community colleges, and I don't know what they've done nationwide, bit it would probably be in relationship to this conference.
FROM THE FLOOR:
Is there any other organization that has term-by-term? I don't understand why we can't give the kid the full view.
Almost all our sports are term-by-term. The only sport that crosses over is basketball, and we've said that they are going to be treated as if they were year-by-year. In other words, a basketball player in February doesn't have to do anything different than the person who has started in their track season in the spring.
FROM THE FLOOR:
I'm from a community college that's in an urban setting, and philosophically I have a problem with the GPA and things like that, because we're finding that many of our people are in need of remediation. They're finding this allover the country, and we're finding people that don't read well. And then we are discriminating against them and saying they can't be athletes? I thinks it's unreasonable to bring people in who read at a fifth-grade level and expect them to perform at a GPA of 2.0. What you also then find is that you may make decisions to put people in courses so that they can maintain a GPA, instead of making the reasonable progress that they should be making by putting them in the proper courses.
The institutions themselves ought to be able to draw up standards that they can live with which give them the academic integrity that they're after. as opposed to somebody else imposing a predetermined GPA. We all have to live with that. because these new rules haven't given us any national themes.
but they've allowed us to get more people involved in our programs than we've had before. So. from that standpoint they make sense to us and we are still able to use some responsibility in terms of
what we will allow for our people to make academic progress.
I agree with what you've just said. You've said it as nicely as anyone I've ever heard say it. Unfortunately, the people I work for won't allow my point, or your point, or our point in this room to carryon. In the California community colleges, we have what is known as an open-door policy.
A couple of years ago we implemented a registration of $50. That's all it costs to come in. Our goal is to not have people fail in the California community colleges. But in athletics, they can. Because of our rules, we're probably the only place on the campus where we can terminate a person's reason for being at the college, and that's grossly unfair. But I'II tell you something. Those folks in
that meeting didn't want to hear that point of view. They didn't want to hear what you just said back there. No way. We tried to and we got cut off fast.
As we saw the conclusions and recommendations, and as the Strategic Planning Committee worked, the biggest concern that we felt was that we were going to get an oversight committee sitting over here to the side, very similar to what is occurring in the NCAA with the Presidents Committee. It was
going to sit off to the side and torpedo damn near everything that was happening. At least in our model, we've got these four CEOs as the equivalent of a regional director. They're voting members; we don't have them as oversight. We've got them involved and we're going to have a chance to work with them for two years. Hopefully, that will be to our advantage.
FROM THE FLOOR:
You pointed out earlier that one of the reasons for this meeting was to de~ermine or give information as to how the CEOs feel. You pointed out that they don't want to hear that comment. What is their point? What do the CEOs counter with in terms of a rationale to answer a question such as has been raised?
Well, I think that they're going to be involved in establishing higher academic standards for athletes. You have it here in number four. What they said is there.
FROM THE FLOOR:
How do they justify discriminating against the athlete?
They justify it because they can point out situations where athletes have been brought along through the system and carried along, and it's just our sport attitude in the United States. For example, the 6-10 kid who has to drop out at North Carolina to go into the NBA draft as a sophomore and then he tells everybody he can't read and can't write and can't make it as a student, or as a citizen.
We're kind of in a catch-22 because we get so much publicity and so much attention to our programs through the sports pages and, unfortunately, negativism predominates. Hank and I mentioned that our scholar-athletes and all American Awards are never heard of. We have to hustle to ever get them in the newspaper or give those men and women recognition. That's one of the reasons why we've established a research committee on our commission so that we can attack the kinds of things that we've talked about philosophically here with hard facts, such as that more schools are matriculating their athletes than have them dropping out. We have an on-going job to do that kind of thing.
Hank, we need to try to wrap this up, and perhaps some of you can continue to ask individual questions after we adjourn. In summary, the critical thing we need to do is to increase communication with our CEOs. I offer one potential suggestion to you, other than communicating on your individual compuses. We, in our particular region, have an annual meeting. It's been our practice for the last several years to make a formal invitation to two or three of our CEOs to attend a session each year to be with us, to hear us. I think we were a little remiss the first time around because the invitations, in my mind, went out to the people that were already supportive of our program and that made it easy. What we need to do is get the invitations out to the people that have no clue about what's going on so we can then have them in a direct dialogue with us.
I want to thank Hank Witt and Walt Rilliet for being with us today. I think they've given us some good insight. I'm sure they would welcome letters, phone calls, whatever, to further explain from
their perspective what took place and what they feel will take place in the future. As we started, I made a couple of comments. I slipped up on one thing I would like to mention, something that's very important. It took place yesterday: Mr. Sam Butterfield was inducted into the Hall of Fame. That's
a process that your four representatives are also involved in. We need your help in terms of soliciting potential people in your areas that would be candidates for the Hall of Fame in the future. To my knowledge, the only requirements are that they have been in the profession as an athletic administrator for a period of 10 years, and secondly, that they're retired from athletic administration. So pleas~ help us also in that venue.
I thank you for your attendance.