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ALL DIVISION I MEMBERS
STUDENT-ATHLETE FORUM: OUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
(Monday, June 7 -11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.)

Fred Miller:

Good morning, I'm Fred Miller, the director of athletics at San Diego State University. We've asked fo quality young people to share some time with us today as to their response to the athletic experience. I'm going to introduce them from my left. First, is Courdie Miller, basketball player at San Diego State University; Karen Jennings, basketball player from the University of Nebraska; Bob Brasher, who is borrow( from the San Diego Chargers today from Arizona State University; Sharon Manship from the University of Arizona. I'm going to ask them to briefly introduce themselves. Sharon, would you lead off with a quick t of your background.

Sharon Manship:

My name is Sharon Manship. I graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of August, 1991, with a general studies degree in math, psychology, and exercise in sports sciences. I on to pursue a master's degree in sports administration. During this master's program, I've done inl the University of Minnesota in the women's athletic department under Chris Voelz and my last inter been with NACDA.

Bob Brasher:

My name's Bob Brasher. I was born and raised here in San Diego and went on to Arizona State played football for five years. I graduated in business and went on to graduate school and signed on Chargers about three or four weeks ago and here I am.

Karen Jennings:

I'm Karen Jennings from the University of Nebraska. I will graduate in August with a degree in ex physiology .I play basketball and plan to go to France to play professional basketball for a year or two. plan to return to the States and pursue medical school. Thank you.

Courdie Miller:

My name is Courdie Miller. I will be a fifth-year senior next year going into my last year in speech ~ommunication and English and I'm looking forward to graduating in December and to having a good yt

Fred Miller:

We've met for the last hour to discuss a forum and there will be several questions that we'll pose here. These questions do not come as a surprise to the panelists. Then, I'll ask for questions from the audience. There's no set way of doing this. If something out there pushes your button and you want an expanse on a particular response, raise your hand and we'll acknowledge you.

We have read and heard from a variety of sources that in the income-generating sports, football and basketball, that athletes should be receiving a stipend for that. The question is, should they? I've asked c panelists to go ahead and respond. Courdie, you're a basketball player. We generate $180 million in the men's basketball tournament. Should basketball players be receiving an extra stipend?

Courdie Miller:

I don't see the need for any extra monies on top of the monies provided by the scholarship and Pell Grants, etc. I do realize that some players come from different social backgrounds where you could see a need for the increased monies. They receive those from the Pell Grants. I know that at our university, everybody signs up for it and those eligible receive the extra monies. When there is a death in the family, special monies have been made available to the athletes. That's been dealt with. Personally, I don't see the need for extra monies, but it's a touchy subject. Different universities have different regulations in terms of the amounts of money.

Fred Miller:

Karen, basketball is an emerging sport. Should women basketball players receive a stipend, or how do you feel about the men doing it?

Karen Jennings:

I agree with Courdie. I don't think we should receive an extra stipend. I feel that the education we receive at the universities is priceless and no money could ever match it. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to earn my full scholarship and I don't feel that I need any extra money. My extra gas or laundry money comes from my parents. People without that financial support from home can get the Pell Grant. It would take away from college athletics and would begin to integrate them more into the professional ranks and I wouldn't like to see that happen. I like how the system is now. I do not see the need for any extra stipends.

Fred Miller:

Let's go to Bob Brasher. They fill up Sun Devil stadium with 70,000 people, over $1 million gross gate. You're out there playing and getting bumped around. What's your feeling from a football perspective?

Bob Brasher:

I feel that there are some people from different backgrounds. I, myself, had help from my parents. Not necessarily, an extra paycheck is needed, but expanding the scholarship to include other expenses, such as laundry money, toothbrushes, hair cuts. There's a lot of expenses that the scholarship does not take care of. There are Pell Grants. I'm not sure how easy or hard it is to receive a Pell Grant. I understand that there are definite money problems, but possibly an expansion of the scholarship, as we know it today, would be a good idea.

Fred Miller:

Sharon, you're a track and field athlete. How do you feel about it?

Sharon Manshin:

I agree with Karen in the sense that a free education is one of the most valuable gifts you can give a person from any walk of life. That should be considered part of the payment as a student-athlete. You 're providing your services as an athlete. You're performing for that school. You're representing that school.

To receive a free education along with the other perks that go along with being a student-athlete such as travel benefits, you get to explore different parts of the world. On the other hand, I can see that paying football and basketball players an extra stipend might keep them in School longer. Some of them are coming out earlier now to go into the professional ranks. There's, obviously, a huge difference receiving room and board versus getting a $1 million signing bonus. That's one plus to helping them. I'm not sure how that works with Division I institutions and how many actual football players are in revenue producing sports. I'm sure all of Division I-A football teams are revenue producing, but there's a considerable amount of football teams that do not produce revenue. They spend more money with travel and on equipment. If you establish a revenue producing sport, perhaps you can provide that extra stipend for haircuts or toothbrushes or that sort of thing, but I'm not sure how far that should extend.

Fred Miller:

We will not address $200 haircuts in this forum. Any questions from the audience concerning whethe not those athletes should be paid in the sports of football and basketball? If not, we're off and running to area of proportionality and specifically, we are talking about gender equity .These young people were not about talking about it. We've read in the paper this morning comments about it, we've heard about it, we prepared to address some of those areas at this particular Convention. Let's examine gender equity from t eyes of the student-athlete. Let's reverse the order and Sharon, why don't you go ahead and lead off.

Sharon Manship:

I know several different conferences are taking different steps to deal with gender equity .Throughout internship with the University of Minnesota, I learned that they are the first conference to start a 60/40 proposal and within five years, they hope to reach a 60 percent to 40 percent ratio with the actual number I male student-athletes versus the number of women student-athletes.

This is one step in the right direction. Every student-athlete should be given the opportunity to pursue their athletic goals to their maximum extent. I think everyone is aware that women's sports need to be promoted, but I don't think it should be done at the expense of men's sports. I know everyone is always looking for money --every athletic department could always use another donor or another sponsor and that when you put your marketing and promotions people to work and find untapped resources to help start a women's sport. When you're looking at equalizing the numbers, you can look to sports such as women's soccer, which has become a bigger college sport than it ever has been before and bringing in more women athletes. By comparison, a sport such as crew cannot involve as many student-athletes. I think it is a big issue and a very sensitive issue and we need to continue to address it.

Bob Brasher:

I wanted to stay away from this one myself. I've been in the sport that's paid for some other sports myself, had to buy my own sweatsuit after I was done playing football at ASU. I think that the teams tl1 making the money should be spending the money, but at the same time, there needs to be some way to b the equity \n the situation. I don't know what the answer is, but I think that the teams that make the mo should be able to spend the money.

Karen Jennings:

I guess that since I am a female I should be high on this subject, but I feel fortunate because I have h~ very equal environment during my past four years at Nebraska. I have been able to eat at a training table all of the football players and basketball players and I have been able to practice in the same facilities as t football and basketball players. When that barrier is broken, when females have to practice at sub-par facilities or a certain female sport isn't able to get the same media attention or the advertising that is needl then something must be done. As long as the women have the same opportunity to academic and athletic facilities and training tables, I don't think there really is a problem, but when that is broken, then somethi] has to be done. The main reason to be in college is to obtain an education and then maybe pursue whatev your dreams are after that. As long as everyone has the same opportunity to receive an education, then I I think there really is a problem.

Courdie Miller:

We all know that the bottom line is money and the two major revenue producing sports are basketball aI football. I do believe that women need to be better represented in the collegiate field, athletics especially, aI it is really touchy. There needs to be a trickily-down type of system so that there is more money being put into women's sports so that we can get interest going at the high school level. If you look at the recruiting magazines, women are under-represented there as well. I feel that women should have the opportunity to go to school and pursue athletics, as men do, and I think that we need to get the media to accept women's sports and get it out there so that women can have the same opportunity to create revenue.

Fred Miller:

Specific questions from the audience concerning the gender equity issue that relates to the student-athlete experience?

Sharon Manship:

I'd like to add one more thing Fred. I am obviously involved in a non-revenue sport, track and field, and there aren't even enough full scholarships to cover every single event in track and field. I know that women today coming into college have more opportunities as student-athletes than I had when I started five years ago, but it's hard because there is a lot of people in gender equity that are pulling and tugging at football saying, "Hey, you've got a lot of scholarships in football," and I can see their concern there and it's touchy, but then you look at it from the track and field perspective when everyone is on partial scholarships and third-string football players who are on a full ride. I know football scholarships are moving down from 90 to 85 now and that is going to help alleviate some of that tension.

Fred Miller:

The proportionality issue really comes down to if your campus is 50/50, should the grants or should participation be at a 50/50 level? That is a tough one, yet at the same time, we posed it and we kicked it around as we sat down and had a cup of coffee prior to this meeting. Should grants and the participation rates be 50/50? Courdie, what's you feeling there?

Courdie Miller:

Well, I feel that women should have the same opportunities as men. It's easy to say this, but when you have to put this into a financial situation, it's just a fact that women's sports do not attract the same type of crowds that male revenue producing sports do. It's difficult because you'd like to say there are scholarships available for women, but it will be hard to fund these scholarships because the monies are not there yet. If that issue is dealt with properly, there will be more scholarships and hopefully with the increased revenue generated by the women's sports, that will be dealt with, but this is a difficult subject.

Fred Miller:

Karen, do you care to follow up on the question?

Karen Jennings:

I think in the next five years, things will change. I don't want to see someone bring in a lot of female sports just to equal it out. I'd like to see quality sports and be represented in the best fashion. If there's 90 football players and 15 women's basketball players, I don't think you should just add a couple sports that will not be concentrated on.

I think in the next five to 10 years, women's sports will be a lot more positive, a lot more people will start going to the events. We'll be generating more revenue for ourselves and then it will be easier for us to equal the barriers out. I agree with Courdie that this is a difficult subject.

Fred Miller:

You guys want to go ahead and amplify it on this side of the table?

Sharon Manship:

With regards to what Karen said, quality is a big key issue --you don't want to add five women's sport! just to have them. You want the experience of every student-athlete to be a quality experience. I think that the women student-athletes deserve to have the same quality experience as men. Some institutions, that is happening, and others, it is not. I don't know which ones exactly, but it's just something that people need tc address and be aware of and try to make their athletic department a place where student-athletes feel good about walking in there --they feel good about being a student-athlete. They're proud to represent their institution and they walk out of there with a very positive experience and they were happy to be a part of th institution and compete for that institution.

Fred Miller:

We covered another subject. Too often, those of us in athletic administration get caught up in our own things, so we asked our panelists here what kind of relationship should we be having with athletes and administrators? Are we more concerned with balancing the bottom line, getting ourselves on television, or should we have a better rapport with our student-athletes? What kind of experiences should administrators and athletes be having? Bob, why don't you go ahead and lead off7

Bob Brasher:

At my university, I saw the administration quite often. They were good people and they were concemec about how everything was going. They did their job and I appreciate them for that. I don't need to shake hands and pat backs with the administration. I am just there to do my job and I think that if they do theirs and I do mine, everything will be all right. But at the same time, I was under a good administration. They were very visible --down in the weight rooms, at events, etc. I can't really see the other side of the tracks very well because I was under an excellent administration. We had a good time.

Fred Miller:

Sharon, do you want to go ahead and pick up? I see that someone is sitting right in the front row notes on this now, don't feel intimidated, you 'ye already graduated.

Sharon Manship:

It's a really nice feeling to attend a big institution and be able to walk into an athletic department and 1 like it's your home. You walk through there, someone asks how you, and even how your parents are doin! They ask how your math test went last week too. I experienced that at Arizona and the whole entire staff there made an effort to know the student-athletes on a first name basis and know something about their personal life. That is pretty amazing for a big athletic department. My parents would come to town; they knew them and knew they were considering retiring to Tucson and helped them with locations and other things.

It's a really great situation. It's a great feeling to know you can walk through the department and pe, are concerned about you as an individual; not only as a student and not only as an athlete. They want to know the whole person and they will take time out of their schedules to listen to you and to share with yl

Karen Jennings:

I guess I am really fortunate also to have a good rapport with my administrators, but like you said, 01 the basic needs in life is to be loved and to feel comfortable enough to have your problem addressed and apprpach these people. I feel really sad for other athletes who have problems who complain and don't understand what the administrators are there for. I haven't had a poor experience to really understand a situation like that, but if you don't already, I encourage everyone to get to know the athletes because it's positive from our end also.

Courdie Miller:

Well, I have to say that my experience at San Diego State has been absolutely great. Any problems that I have had, I have been able to go to the administrators and they have been able to help me solve any problem and make any changes that need to be made. I think we're very lucky at San Diego State because Dr. Miller has set up a group of athletes where we get together and we sit down with him and other administrators to talk about problems that we see in our sports and any concerns that we might have are voiced. The difference in our situation is that we actually see results, where in other schools those issues are glossed over and the results are not seen. I think that it is important to institute that type of communication network in a university .

Fred Miller:

Questions from the floor about this particular relationship? We talked at some length about national standards, as it relates to crime on campus; the fact that these young people live in the fish bowl, sometimes it's amplified beyond reality. Should there be some ways that we nationally can go ahead and handle crime issues and drug issues?

At some of our universities, we do have problems that surface periodically and should there be some kind of guidelines out there? This was brought up by some of our panelists, so let's go ahead and lead off. Karen, why don't you talk about all those pressures in Lincoln, Nebraska?

Karen Jennings:

Obviously, Lincoln, Nebraska is a lot different from Los Angeles. I do feel like we do live in a fish bowl. In Lincoln, I can go into a bar and find that everyone knows who I am, or will know that I play women's basketball. It's up to me to realize that and to know that wherever I go, people are always watching me and I have to be very conscious of that. If I want to be a proper role model for young individuals, I need to watch where I go, what I do, and what I say. I don't know if that holds true as much in a big city where people don't really know who you play for or what you do, but in a small college town, it's very true. I don't know if I should even comment on the crime rate, because it is a very different situation in Nebraska. There's crime everywhere and I think that every university should have a consistent system for dealing with certain types of crime. One school shouldn't be penalized because an athlete committed a crime while another school's athlete committed a similar crime and is allowed to play. I would like to see consistency.

Fred Miller:

Let me flip over to Bob Brasher. They got whipped a little bit last year. Talk about it.

Bob Brasher:

Yeah, to say the least. We ran into a few problems last year and there was no uniform code to handle them. I don't think it was fair to some of the other players on the team that week-by-week a player would be practicing and then suddenly be pulled out Friday before the game. I think that there is some uniform code that if you run into criminal problems after participating in a sport, it would be much easier on everyone involved if the directors don't have to make a command decision right there. To have a player periodically sent in week by week just kills the morale of the team and everyone involved in the situation.

Karen Jennings:

After all the NCAA legislation that we have, I can't imagine there isn't already something on this. There may be, but I am not aware of it. I think it is really important that institutions have something in writing, some format to follow so that if something happens, they can be prepared for situations. Everyone in athletic departments like to be prepared for the unexpected and obviously, this situation does occur more often than we'd like to think. It would be helpful for an athletic department to follow a certain format given to every institution so they know what procedure to follow.

Courdie Miller:

I'd agree with the rest of the panel, but I believe that it indicates a problem with the individuals that are being brought into the universities. It's the responsibility of the coaching staff and the people that evaluate the individuals they are interested in recruiting to find out if they are really interested in being student-athlet and not just athletes. They may have to evaluate the individuals on a little bit more strict basis--that might solve the problem.

Fred Miller:

We touched upon the recruiting process over a cup of coffee prior to this meeting. We've asked the paneli to respond to how they view the recruiting process--they're involved with it now in recruiting weekends, w prospective student-athletes come to our campus. Basically, how they feel about having been recruited and how do they feel now, about being part of the recruiting process? Karen, let's lead off with you.

Karen Jennings:

The recruiting process is very important, the visits especially. I went to Nebraska because of my visit. I hate to see people going to a school because they received a lot of benefits during their visit, such as money, shirts and/or hats. I think a lot has to do with who you recruit as a person--if you want to recruit a good student-athlete, you will know a lot about their background to begin with. That person will go to a school because of the coach, players, academics and the facilities. Obviously, as a women's basketball player, we don't break the rules as much as others when it comes to recruiting. It happens, even in women's athletics, but I'll let the guys who are the pros at it respond.

Courdie Miller:

In my experience, I have been offered a lot of different things as enticements to go to certain universitie No names will be given, so don't worry .There were a lot of things outside the realm of athletics that were offered. It is interesting because you read about all these NCAA guidelines and rules and it seems that all ti gets thrown out the window. If they really want you, they will do anything it takes to get you there. The schools that I cut off my list right away were the schools that were doing things that I felt were violating m: morals--they weren't really interested in me, they were interested in having me go there so I could provide them with monies. That comes down to the type of individual you are. Some schools present an atmospher of partying rather than a university atmosphere. I think a person should make a decision based upon the rea reason we go to school--that is, to provide ourselves with an education and opportunity to advance yourself.

Fred Miller:

Bob, the recruiting process in football?

Bob Brasher:

I guess they didn't want me enough, because I didn't find a lot of that. I was surprised after hc stories and seeing gifts here and there, but I didn't experience any of that. Basically, my recruiting was really clean. That's about all I have to say.

Fred Miller:

Sharon?

Sharon Manship:

I guess I was a little surprised when I was being recruited my senior year. I thought it would be a glamorous process--all these schools wanting you to attend their institution. Actually, it is a nightmare. The recruiting restrictions now have made it so that it is a much better experience for the student-athlete, but if you think about it, it's the student-athlete's first time going through it and these coaches have been through it hundreds and thousands of times. You'll have coaches calling at all hours of the night and if you say "No, I'm not interested," they get upset. It's really tough. The actual visits to the campus were clean. I know that it hasn't been like that in the past, but the regulations that they have now with the recruiting process--one call a week--has helped. Another big problem that Courdie mentioned earlier, is that you're given $20 to take a prospective student-athlete out for an evening. That is kind of tough, because when I was recruiting, I went to dinner with half the track team and that was fine. Now, the restrictions are such that you cannot do that anymore. The recruiting process is changing on a yearly basis and hopefully, for the better.

Fred Miller:

As a wrap-up question, we have asked each of the panelists to consider the total athletic experience --the good, the bad, the high and the low. What did they gain from being involved in competitive athletics? Courdie, let's start off with you.

Courdie Miller:

It's not quite over yet, but so far, I have been able to experience probably the most wonderful feelings I have ever had up to this point. I have been able to go to some beautiful places and meet a lot of beautiful people. I think the most rewarding part of it, aside from my education, is the opportunity to touch young lives. We have a certain responsibility--even though Charles Barkley doesn't think so--to be role models. People really look up to us to set some type of standard and I think that the ability that college athletics has given me, in terms of being in the spotlight and being out there to touch young people, is really what's been the biggest joy for me as a student-athlete.

Karen Jennings:

I agree with Courdie. I feel that the opportunities I have been afforded at Nebraska have been outstanding and I wouldn't change a thing. I am from a really small town in Iowa and I was very naive when I came to college. I feel like I have grown a lot. The experiences I have gone through at Nebraska have helped me deal with new things. I am sure that when I go over to France, I will be able to have other new experiences. I feel like I have grown a lot as a person--both intellectually as well as athletically. I feel that I have attained a lot on the floor, but my personal relationships that I have had with teammates, other athletes and students at the university, are probably my most positive experiences. I'll never forget the memories or the friendships.

Bob Brasher:

I think that the college athletic experience is an excellent one. I think it teaches you a lot and it is true that you get out of it what you put into it. I think the friendships that have been made will undoubtedly last a lifetime. I also think that my eyes were opened to a reality and I think that it is an excellent experience for anyone who participates in it.

Sharon Manship:

I'd have to say that being a college student-athlete was probably one of the highlights of my life. You learn so much about life. All the life skills you attain in college can be taken with you into the real world. You learn about adversity, hard work, dedication, commitment. You even learn how to balance a budget and pay your bills on time.

I think the camaraderie that is shared among student-athletes is a special one. You feel special because you're representing your institution in a way that no other on campus is. It is a great feeling to be a part of that. Also, it is wonderful to be a role model for your entire community .People look up to you because of your involvement in the athletic department. I enjoy being a role model for young kids who want to be a student-athlete someday at a major institution and inspiring them to be the best that they can be.

Fred Miller:

Is there anyone thing that you would like to see changed, as you wrap this thing up? Anything that you would like to see altered? Any improvement made in the college experience?

Sharon Manship:

I think the alterations that the institutions are going through now are positive. I don't think you can change overnight. I also haven't had an experience in which I thought needed to be changed. I really d, that it is a dynamic situation--it is always changing and you have to provide for that.

Bob Brasher:

Possibly when an athlete is leaving a college, maybe a little help with some experience with the professional ranks. There's a great concern about the players that are there at the college, but when the players graduate, basically, only the coaching staff had a real interest in what was going on and lended a hanl in the process of going to the next level. Maybe changes such as more information on agents and teams and the whole process.

Fred Miller:

Karen, if you were athletic director for the day, what would you do? One change?

Karen Jennings:

I am going to pass on this one, because I can't think of anything substantial right now.

Fred Miller:

It's been an easy job for me to go ahead and interview quality young people such as you see here toda~ I remind you to wander through the exhibits and hit the luncheon and let's show our appreciation for these people who stepped up to the plate.