ALL DIVISION I MEMBERS
INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION WITH THE SPECIAL NCAA COMMITTEE TO STUDY RULES FEDERATION BY SPORT
(Wednesday, June 9 -9:30-10:00 a.m.)
Good morning again, everyone. This is the Division I session to review the work of the Committee on Federation by Sport. We do not want to have presentations here, but rather respond to your questions. Elair Dreidame outlined the preliminary work that this committee has done to this stage. We're very interested in your reaction. We have with us today members of the committee -Frank Rienzo from Georgetown, Tom Kinder from Bridgewater College, Elaine Dreidame from the University of Dayton and Chuck Lindemann from Humboldt State. We have members from all divisions, as you can see. The committee itself has good cross-sectional representation and we'd be glad to discuss any aspect of the committee's work.
Questions that I think the committee would like to have answers to are, at this point the committee is thinking that this process of allowing for some tiering of sports could be effectively accomplished within the current division structure. That is, in Division I schools, we would not have to merge divisions in order to effect this. The committee would probably be interested in whether there's anyone who has a view about whether preservation of the current divisional structure is important as this kind of federated approach takes place. You can think about that a little bit and you may want to react to that. Other questions that we might have would run to whether you, as directors of athletics, feel that you could actually put sports on your campus in what was the fourth tier, that's the regional level of participation. It would still be a Division I program. It would still be a Division I sport, but you would get rid of anything in the way of membership, specific scheduling criteria and a lot of irregularatory baggage that is a part of the current NCAA rules structure largely designed for those at the highest end of the competitive spectrum. You could get away from a lot of that.
A question the committee has struggled with, including the directors on the committee, is will athletics directors really feel they can do this on their campus. That is, put sports in this regional category. We know that some campuses are doing this effectively in some sports. Georgetown has a tiering approach to their sports already, but others expressed concerns that this might be difficult politically on their campuses to accomplish with existing teams.
Jack Lengyel, from the Naval Academy. I think the idea of tiering the sports certainly has merits. When I was in Missouri, we did this back in 1982, although there was some controversy at that time, it was primarily for funding purposes. In the long run, it was accepted. The question I have for the committee is, if in fact, we get to this tiering in Division I, how is that financing going to take place and from what funding source are you going to have. Because obviously, what you're doing is now expanding championships down into the II and III. We're going to expand numbers of institutions that will participate in different levels, but where is the funding source going to come for these championships.
Let me first react just generally to that and then we'll ask the committee members. This concept does not anticipate expanded championship opportunities. In fact, to the contrary, I think there's some hope that championship field sizes might actually shrink. You would retain current championships opportunities in Division I for I schools, Division II for II members, Division III for III members, but if you had significant sponsorships in these regional areas, that would take away from the national sponsorship numbers and allow you to shrink the championship fields perhaps, and not start a whole new tier of NCAA-sponsored regional functions. Committee members may have some reaction to that.
I think the whole idea was that there would be no national championship, whatsoever, at the regional level. When you have a sport and you want to do it by conference and you would end with your conference championship, that's fine. Or, if you're just playing a season schedule, that would be it. You have to opt for the national level which is what we are currently now. But, if you opt for regional level, you give up any access to championships on a national level.
Judith Davidson, Central Connecticut State University .Has the committee thought at all about how this concept would play out at the conference level? Do you think that the conferences would ultimately be making the decision to compete at a certain level? I'm having a little difficulty conceptualizing how this might work in any conference.
There was considerable discussion. There are conference commissioners involved in this committee. We have Tom Yeager from the Colonial Athletic Conference and David Price from the Pac-l0 involved. What is contemplated is that there would probably be some altering of championship structures. Perhaps, re- configuring on some of the sports that are played on a regional level where there might be some members of the conference that want to continue to compete nationally, others who want to stay at the regional level and that might cause them in those sports to seek new alliances, new federations with others who are at the same level to develop a regional type of program.
Judith, one other thing is that not all of us who are in conferences only have conference sports. We have other sports which aren't conference sports. But, we're still having to do all of our initial eligibility certification and jump through all of the paper hoops, tracking the hours per week, etc., in sports that some of us are not geared for nationally in terms of the financial commitment. This would allow us to so designate those sports as regional level and to stop jumping through the hoops for them. It could be done on an institutional basis, or it could be done on a conference basis.
That is a very good point. I would like to point out many of the members in here are in the west, but in an attempt to look at this from a different paradigm, the west has formed a Mountain Pacific Federation, crossing over a variety of conferences in an attempt for one sport's survival, geographic competition and reduce costs, obviously. Presently, in that federation, there are about seven or eight sports and looking at other possibilities down the line. It would seem to me that this concept would be married to another concept of a change and looking at how conferences are organized and probably reducing the number of sports a conference might offer based upon the tiered concept here.
I would like to charge the committee, if you would, is that one of the problems as we've gone through this federating of these conferences together, is that we had to stop because the NCAA legislation is that you must have so many sports in the conference in order to have your automatic qualification in men's basketball. Something that the committee could help us with is to help us relieve this as quickly as possible, as long as the institutions are sponsoring these numbers of sports in that conference, they still get the automatic qualification. Because we have some other sports that we want to federate, but now we can't do that at this point. This is something in the short term that you could really help us with.
That's very important, John. That's been discussed to some extent by the committee. There are also some division membership criteria that will have to be addressed if this concept is to go forward related to tb minimum financial aid commitments in Division I, related to the minimum sports sponsorships in Division I, and how to maintain a real commitment to Division I athletics that doesn't allow all resources to be devoted one or two sports and yet, allows an institution the flexibility that is contemplated in this plan. There are some legislative areas beyond just the obvious that will have to be looked into.
I think that when you talk about the NCAA structure and this federated approach, realize that once we build our programs up above the minimum seven sports for women, when we meet other applicable federal legislation, Title IX, gender equity, we have to maintain those programs at that level. So the NCAA minimum requirements, once we're there, we're really going to stay there. We're not going to drop women's sports. We're not going to be reducing too much on the men's side because the dollars then flow back to the women's side and it's really more expensive. So, we may not need the minimum requirements for the NCAA for Division I anymore.
My view would be that in a perfect world, we would no longer have divisions in the way they presently exist. But, I'm afraid to propose that because I think that immediately creates a paranoia among I-A football and I basketball that everybody wants to get in on the act. There's some validity to that paranoia.
This issue would be, however, if you create a situation where your institution has a certain number of national sports and you would need to have a corresponding number of national sports for men and for women, so you would be addressing the issues of equity .You then would have a certain number of sports that are regional sports and you would have to have an equal number of sports for men or for women. But, the difference is, you have your resources at a national level. You have different resources at a regional level, and honestly, I'm encouraging the committee to go to a third concept which is a local level. Those of us who live in the east, local is a lot easier than if you live in the west because there are enough schools within a geographic area that you can play local sports.
The idea of tiering is going on in every one of our schools at the present time. If you go back, those of you who are old enough, remember when we used to have major and minor sports. You remember the
AlA W , which allowed you to pick and choose. There is a lot of federation by sport on an institutional level going on now. There is a lot of federation by sport going on at a conference level right now. We heard about the Pac-10, the Big West and the WAC Conference and their federation. You have Big East football. Big East football is I-A football where four schools from one conference join together with two other conferences to form what is known as Big East football. You have, in track and field, the ICAAAA, which is the oldest English-speaking conference. It's over 100 years old. There are 98 schools who have federated in the sport of track and field. The U.S. Olympic Committee is federation by sport.
The idea that this is a new concept, what we're really doing is taking out the old model T and asking, will it help us with today's problems? Think about it. How many of you have had a team or an individual qualify for a national championship? I'll bet you there are not many of us who have had teams or individuals qualify or participate in national championships. We've created a hysteria or a mentality that we're pursing the holy grail of a national championship. When in reality, we know we're not going to do it.
The tiering concept will allow those schools who want to participate at the very highest level in Division I to have national level. We don't want to increase the number of championships that the NCAA is sponsoring. What we're saying is, let's be honest with ourselves. There are some sports on our campuses that we're not funding in terms of coaching salaries, or in financial aid, that will never aspire to being in a national
championship. As long as we're being fair to the men and women in doing that, then there's no reason we can't proceed and have national programs and regional programs.
It's going to provide us, as athletic directors, with a planning tool, a management tool and an evaluation tool. You say to the coach, "Are you doing the job regionally?" Not, " Are you competing against the teams that are doing a particular program on a national level, but how are you doing it against the regional opponents?"
They may not be the same schools you're competing against in your national programs. I do think there will be adaptation of conferences. But, the Pac-l0 and the Big West and the WAC have already done that. The Big East, the Atlantic 10 and the Metro Conference have already done that in football.
When we begin to look at what are we doing now, let's give it some names, some titles. Let's give it respectability. To tell you the truth, I think this is the solution for I-A football versus the issue of gender equity because schools will be able to continue to carry on a national I-A program in football. They will have to decrease the number of men's sports in order to be fair to the women on their campus, but they will not have to sacrifice football. So, it's a combination of all of these issues that, as managers, it's going to make it a much better and easier way for us to conduct business because, we're going to admit what we're presently doing.
Mike Lude from Auburn University .Two questions to the committee. One, if you 're regionalizing, think along with me this. Can you regionalize a men' s sport and not the women' s sport in the same sport? In other words, our track team. Suppose I wanted to regionalize men and not women, or vice versa. Have you given some thought to that?
Secondly, how many Division I-A people are on the committee?
While you're adding up those figures and as a follow-up to what Frank had said, we've been a part of the tiering system on the east coast for a long time. It's proved very valuable and competitive and created a lot of opportunities, but one thing we have never excluded, as we don't with the student in the classroom where he or she wants to arrive and have the opportunity to get to the final dance or the top of the mountain. We've never excluded getting to the championship. The day that we do that, that we create a double or triple standard in relationship to our student-athletes coming in, I think we've lost something.
That is a philosophical issue that the committee is struggling with as well. To get Mike questions resolved as to the number of individuals, this is a 12-member committee and on it are four repres~ntatives from Division I-A --Jody Conradt from Texas, Kay Hart from Utah State, David Price from the Pac-l0 and Dave Keilitz, the chair, is from Central Michigan.
The other question about how would you treat the same sport for men and for women if you chose to keep one at the national level and one at the regional level will be answered by Frank Rienzo.
I don't think that that's an NCAA issue. That's an institutional issue, whether you want to conduct which programs at a national level and which programs at a regional level. Let me give you an example of what we do at Georgetown. We have 24 intercollegiate teams. Nine of those we aspire to compete at the national level, to be involved in national championships. Five of them are for men and four are for women. That makes me uncomfortable and I'm now choosing an additional sport in women's to move to the national level. We have nine regional teams. Five are for women and three are for men and one is co-ed. Then, we have six
additional local teams. Three are for women and three are for men. It is interesting. They don't match up b sport. Women's tennis at Georgetown is a regional sport. Men's tennis is a local sport. That has to do with tradition and reasons of equity that we've made the decision a long time ago.
I don't think the NCAA should be in the business of detennining whether you're in compliance with IX, national legislation, or whether you're in the business of being fair to your students. Your students s be the ones who evaluate which programs are acceptable or which ones are not.
It's important to remember what the committee is contemplating at this point is an option, an institutional selection opportunity to try to give more flexibility, but there are many institutions that may well want to continue to select that championship's opportunity for every student-athlete in the program by sponsoring all of the sports at the highest level. That has been a part of the committee's discussion and, as I said, when we were opening this session, that's one of the things that the committee is real interested in. Yours is one that we're hearing from some quarters that you really don't think it's fair to your student-athletes to take away tha national championship opportunity or it's politically unwise to do it whether it's for philosophical reasons or political reasons that that's a hard thing to do. That's something the committee would like to continue to hem about as it goes about it's work in the next several months.
In team sports, it's very difficult to aspire to a national championship unless you're putting the resources into it. In individual sports that have qualifying standards of some kind, it's much easier to have a program that's aspiring to a national level and have an individual from time to time who will be able to participate at the national level.
How I got started on this whole crusade was when we were at a convention and Ced Dempsey got up spoke about baseball'. I laughed. The idea that Georgetown University, with a baseball team that does not give one penny of financial aid for it's baseball program, should in some way or other be regulating what Arizona does in baseball is absolutely ludicrous. We do not aspire to be involved in the national championship in baseball, otherwise, I've got to give scholarships.
So, it's this concept that those who want to participate at the highest level will develop rules and regulations for the national championship teams. I don't see crossing divisions. I don't see Georgetown aspiring to participate in Division II or III baseball. We made our choice to be in Division I because we wanted to participate in nine sports at that level.
Barbara Hedges from the University of Washington. I'm a little confused on your point of not wanting increase championships. But, if you have the tier level and you have regional and national competition and, let's take the sport of softball, you're sponsoring some kind of a championship at the regional level as well ; the national level to accommodate the interest of institutions, how is that not increasing the number of championships?
The committee's proposal at this time doesn't contemplate some kind ofNCAA-organized regional opportunity. In that structure, that would be groups of institutions coming together whether it's like the Mountain Pacific Federation. You could come together and decide to have some kind of regional championship among those institutions as a conference or just regional activity .At this point, because of n wanting to get into additional national resources being expended on something, the thought was that there would not be regional championships. That was discussed in the committee's first meeting as a possibility
that the association might organize four regional championships, but is not a part of the proposal being discussed at this point.
The key to that was as soon as you put a championship out there, you have to put all of the rules back in because in order to keep the playing field level, our coaches will tell us, they have to have these rules because otherwise somebody else is going to get an advantage. That was why the regional was completely clean. There's no national championship. There's no NCAA championship. You institutionally orchestrate to whatever level you want as far as geography or what schools you play.
So the reality is, if in a particular area, you do not get together and you do not have any kind of regional opportunity, it stops at the conference level.
You might just play your schedule and stop.
We might use conference and regional as synonymous. They're not necessarily different.
Steve, I was wondering whether or not the committee has looked at other models in developing some sort of different competitive approach. One problem that concerns me a little in this model, if you look on a campus at the continuum of physical activity opportunities for students, there is certainly already a club model, in most of those sports, there are national championships at club level. So, if we go back and implement this model, you might have strictly a student-run club program with national championship opportunities. You move into this federated concept that you're talking about where intercollegiately, we might be sponsoring sports, but we're saying to you, "no, you're not going to have an opportunity for a national championship" and then, you're going to have a third level where there will be national championships. It seems to me that there is some inconsistency in this development. I just wondered whether other models have been explored.
At this point, Ced, the answer is not very thoroughly. This was the product of the initial meeting of the committee on one day. There is one other model that has been looked at a little bit because it was developed by the Special Committee on Financial Conditions and Kay Hart is a member of both committees and shared that model with this group. It involved a movement away from the current divisional structure in providing some opportunities and did not address the concern you've just expressed about setting up a scenario where you might have a club sport effectively being played at a higher level than an intercollegiate sport. That concept, which was only briefly discussed by this committee, has some problems with issues that already existed in this association, if you break down the divisional lines, not the least of which is an already sensitive area known as revenue distribution.
I'm sure this committee, when it comes back together this month, with the benefit of what's happened here today and the various other forums that all of the other members of the committee move in, we'll have a
lot more ideas of what to talk about.
I am concerned about the revenue distribution. I like that money we get back and we need that money. I rather suspect all of our colleagues do. So, committee, don't forget there's a little bit of money involved any way you look at it.
Is this an annual declaration for regional, local or national, or is it a four-year declaration or a one-year declaration. In other words, if we lose our no-hit softball pitcher that's been with us for three years and we got a pretty bad team next year, I think I want to go regional.
That is an issue still to be addressed. It's probably less of a concern in the scenario you've just described, Mike, then if you're building a team on the regional basis with less regulation as to eligibility and then come roaring off that with students who might have been recruited under different rules with different initial standards with different continuing eligibility standards and then you get that team built and then declare national. You may have an edge over some other teams. How do you use it to build sports? Those are questions that do have to be addressed.
As you've heard here, there are so many different scenarios going on throughout the United States in regards to these tiering of sports at the campus level and even within conferences. I would urge the committee to let some of this happen, since we're just in about the last two years and let this allow to work out. Have the committee be reactive to what's happened nationally in our areas because problems in the west are not the same as the problems in the east. That would be the problem of trying to make this from the NCAA down to the different regions. It's to allow us to react because this is happening no matter what the committee does. This is going to happen out of necessity .I would rather see the federated rules or what comes after, after we've sifted this out in our particular areas.
From the Panel:
Was there any consideration to the possibility of having the same sport and having it both nationally and regionally on one campus?
That was not discussed. That's still out there. We'll conclude this. There's a great diversity of opinion already indicated just in the few of you who have had an opportunity to comment this morning. I would urg each of you to continue to react within your current conference structures and other places and get feedback back to this committee to help them determine what real interest there is in developing some greater flexibili' concept.
Thank you for your attention. We'll conclude and move on to the next session.