NCAA Division III Breakout
College Athletics in the Year 2000/ A Divisional Look at the Future
(Monday, June 20, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)
Good morning and welcome to the Division III Breakout. We're delighted to be looking at the Division III in the Year 2000 as a spinoff of this morning's Keynote Address that we heard. We have three very diverse panelists this morning: one from the east coast, one from the west coast, one from the middle and one who was a member of the NCAA Council, one who is a member and one who probably should be. So, we're delighted to have them talk to you this morning.
The theme for this year's NACDA Convention is restructuring. While the national media may not focusing on Division III, we, in fact, may have more dynamic ramifications to our status than in any other Division. For one thing, we outnumber everyone else. That can be good since there is certainly power in numbers. It can also have a downside where we become less and less homogenous. Division III, in a way, is a melting pot of college athletics. It's not surprising if you look at the criteria for becoming a Division III member. Many of you think that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Others say that if we aren't proactive in shaping our own futures, someone else may do it for us. The arguments will probably continue whether we like them or not. The private versus the public, the sports sponsorship criteria, tuition, enrollments, etc., etc. You've heard them all before.
Today, we're privileged to talk about Division III in the Year 2000 and to give you three different perspectives on that and to give us all food for thought as we try to lend a hand in shaping our futures. The first speaker is Art Eason. Art was on the NCAA Council. He has been the athletic director at William Paterson College for 23 years. He's a graduate of Montclair State College and he is currently the secretary of NACDA.
Thank you. Usually speakers start out by thanking people and letting everyone know how happy they are to be here. I guess I have to break that mold. Tim sort of roped me into this, but I'm here, so we'll make the best of it.
I went to church last week. A very good friend of mine was being installed as a deacon. The minister who presided over the ceremony started out by saying, "If you want to be a good deacon, you need to know three things. First of all, you have to know when to get up. Secondly, you need to know when to speak up. And thirdly, you have to know when to shut up." So, maybe I can make two out of three of these and we'll see what happens.
Trying to look ahead five years down the road into the year 2000 to see what athletics will be like is probably as challenging as trying to predict which basketball teams will be in the NCAA Division I Final Four in the year 2000. Without a crystal ball, but using the insights that we've been able to pick up from what's going on in this country of ours, I'll try and give it my best shot.
First of all, I look upon the growth in membership in Division III as being one of the things that will accelerate. Division III, as Tim mentioned earlier, is already the largest division in the NCAA. By the year 2000, it stands the possibility of almost being equal to Division I and II combined. This is caused, in part, by the many institutions which are presently in the NAIA that are very concerned with their pay-as-you-go championships and also their costs and they look with envy at the guarantee travel that Division III offers and also the guarantee per diem. Things like this will make them, and has already made many of them, apply for membership in Division III.
I remember a few years ago when I was on the council, any time an institution applied for Division III membership, it was just a rubber stamp. They got it. Finally, the convention was in Anaheim and we did a good job of looking at the criteria and questioning many of the NAIA schools and we would waive certain criteria. That was their scholarship criterion. So, they would come into Division III, be eligible for the championships and still have certain scholarship athletes on their teams and this didn't do well for the Division III institutions that were playing with non-scholarship athletes.
There will also be some Division II and maybe even a few Division I schools that will drop down into our division. The reason for this dropping, of course, will be the cost of scholarships and other high costs of operating. Some of these schools probably should really already be Division III. The only reason they have opted for Division I or Division II membership is because of the conference grants and the revenue distribution program that they get in Division I. Getting that revenue at the end of the year has allowed them to continue to operate. So, whether they should be in Division III or not, they opted for a higher division. These additional schools will make it more difficult to qualify for NCAA championships. We find we're going to have to fight to get and maintain an eight-to-one ratio for championships or we'll find many of us left out, if that's what we're opting to do going on to Division III championships.
Another area I looked at in Division III for the year 2000 will be the restructuring process there. By the year 2000, hopefully, it will be firmly in place. However, there will be some new names, new committees and, perhaps, new criteria for membership in Division III. Still, I don't look upon the restructuring to solve the problems of Division III. In Division III, the presidents will have their control. This is one of the things they're looking for with this restructuring. But, really, at our level, haven't the presidents always been in control? To me, that's been more of a Division I problem where the presidents have been trying to wrestle to get control. We will, with the restructuring, make it easier for them to, if they don't have the control, get the control because the presidents will make up the Presidents' Council, but I see from reading the restructuring reports, that they will also be included in the Management Council.
In Division III, we will still have the arguments of private versus public schools for membership. We will also look at the big school versus the small school controversies that have raged on in the past and they will continue to happen. Hopefully, we will not have to wrestle with the problem of regional versus national championships. This might still be an item that will be debated in the year 2000.
Attempts to bring back a level playing field will continue. I see the Manual getting bigger. This morning, we heard that in 1959 it was about 59 pages and how it has gone to more than 500 pages. Could you imagine, with the legislation that probably will be proposed down the road, the Manual will go on to 600 or more pages? If this is to continue, trees might become an endangered species and the cost of paper, which has already gone up, will continue to go up. That's one of the things that makes our jobs so interesting as athletic administrators. It seems the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Again, problems that we are dealing with now and some we thought we had successfully dealt with and put away, I see them resurfacing there.
In the year 2000, the federated Division III will probably have its own NCAA convention. Division I institutions might decide they don't want an NCAA convention for that year. Division III topics at the convention floor will probably be again initial eligibility standards. The need for Division III to develop a minimum grade point standard, or maybe minimum SAT standards. People argue Division III needs to get on board. They are the only division that does not have minimum standards for admission and athletic participation.
Other general items might include the need for a satisfactory normal progress rule. Or, maybe even looking at freshmen, limiting their participation in order to give them more time, give them the opportunity get firmly entrenched in college. However, we as athletic administrators at the Division III level, shouldn't worry about what's happening at Division I or II. We should do what's best for our student-athletes and what is best for our own division. That should always be what is most important for us.
A final area that I feel will really be a hot spot for us in Division III will be the area of gender equity. The recent Supreme Court decision on federal affirmative action and the dismantling of affirmative action regulations and rules in states like California, will make one wonder what the year 2000 holds for gender equity. I'll be the first to admit that you cannot legislate morality, however, without laws, would we be moved to do the right thing? Will athletic opportunities for women come close to matching their institutions' enrollment numbers? Will their interest in athletics be met or even challenged or cared about? With costs being high and shrinking budgets, will the country be moving more and more to the right? My answer is, just as affirmative action has been under attack, gender equity will also be under attack. It's vital that we get all we can for our women to give them the opportunity to participate, because soon gender equity will be on the hit list and probably by the year 2000, gender equity might become a forgotten issue. I'm reminded by a song that I heard at the show last night. It goes, "and the beat goes on, and the beat goes on. The drums keep playing louder and the beat goes on." I see the year 2000 having very little difference from this year of 1995. Thank you.
Thank you Art. Another individual that I roped into being here is Dennis Collins. Dennis is a graduate of Ohio State University. He was a staff member at Otterbein College and Case Western Reserve University. Currently, he's the executive director of the North Coast Athletic Conference. He is a member of the NCAA Council and also a member of the NCAA Division III Task Force on Restructuring. We have Dennis today to give us an update on that Task Force and some information that the Task Force has for us. They've been fighting for us as best they could. Thanks goes to Dan Bridges who's here today as co-chair of that Task Force. Now, to give us an update, here's Dennis Collins.
Thank you Tim. Art Eason and I were the first ones in the room and I asked him if he realized that whomever the first speaker is on this panel is going to be the person to follow Jesse Jackson. I told him that I didn't want to be that person. We flipped a coin and Art lost, but Art, you did a nice job.
I want to temper my restructuring remarks a bit and focus on some other issues. If you want to know what Division III or, specifically, your institution will look like in the year 2000, I can't tell you. I can tell you how to find out. Each of our institutions has a very important committee. Some call it long range planning, admissions planning, the five-year plan for admissions and financial aid, all sorts of names. I'm sure you're familiar with what I'm talking about. I've observed in my conference that so goes that committee, so goes the athletic department and the athletic program. You can carry that a little bit further. If that's true, how your institution goes, so goes Division III to a great extent. If you are not part of this committee or have some representative from athletics on it, you ought to make sure you're either part of it or have some kind of input to it. It's certainly a very important committee on your campus. It plans their future and that's what we're talking about today. Once a part of that committee, you'll be able to tell your folks how some of their grand plans may affect athletics, positively or negatively. You may not win your points, but at last you have an opportunity for input.
For those of us in Division III, athletics is important. For some, it's critically important. There are several hundred first-year students at the average Division III school that are a big part of the admissions plan and are critical to the cash flow. To some others, athletics have no real bearing on the admissions plan. For others, athletics probably should be considered in these plans, but are not. The bottom line is, some of our institutions never consider the consequences of their master plan on athletics and are surprised when good student-athletes just do not show up. I believe your involvement in this process will help to determine the success and direction of athletics at your institution.
From my standpoint, I like to look at the marketplace and what we are dealing with. Twelve years ago, when I started in this job, virtually, all of my conference members had more men than women enrolled. Now, 12 years later, all but one have more women than men. And two of my nine institutions have nearly a 60-40 ratio of women to men. That's a big change. This tells me that my customer base is changing. We need to devote more attention to women's athletics. Even so, a lot of us have done a good job in that area, but the future is showing us that there will be more women and more interest in women's athletics.
As a result, I predict there will be more women's sports added to accommodate this interest. Of course, you'll say you don't have the extra funds right now and probably won't have them in the next five years. I have one president in particular who is fond of saying, "You can add anything that makes some sense, but also tell me what you were going to cut so we can keep the budget even." I'm sure you've all heard something like that. Something has to give in this scenario. We do have a positive interest. We do have restrained budgets, etc., but there will be some shifting around. One of the things I see happening, and it's unfortunate, is some football programs are being eliminated on Division III campuses. I see it a little in our own area where the possibility exists, where you can't do everything. People are trying to do everything and after awhile, it's not going to work financially. I think it's difficult, but I see it happening, especially if the program has not been successful and is a program that does not have a strong tradition in the sport.
I say this when we are seeing the fraternity system being broken up across the country. That's something we probably wouldn't have seen five or 10 years ago. Never assume that everything is going to last forever. The fraternity situation can show us that change is in the wind and football may be vulnerable.
Division III programs will continue to divide into two types. We have the more traditional programs that have been in Division III for a long time, the large broad-based programs and, through our restructuring efforts, we've done a lot of demographic research which has been very helpful to find out who we are, what are we actually doing. We found that half of the division sponsors 16 or more sports. They'll be some tradeoffs with these schools in their programs, but the economics will continue to prove the value of offering a full range of programs, especially in the private school sector.
I also see the group in Division III with a minimum sports sponsorship. That group and others in the division will downside. These schools will tell you they cannot afford to sponsor more than the required eight sports and even that will be difficult. You may see even measures and legislation possibly to reduce the minimum number of sports per sports sponsorship to be in Division III. I base this prediction on current facts. Half of the division sponsors 16 or more sports. Until about five or six years ago, that figure was close to 60 percent sponsoring 16 sports. Now, nearly 100 of our 348 schools sponsor the minimum of eight sports. A quick glance at the 39 provisional members of Division III shows that most of them are at the minimum or below.
That is the reason, as Art talked about, the provisional membership was made to make sure that people coming in had at least the minimum requirements.
I see a continuation of this major/minor sports sponsorship trend. I believe this great difference in philosophy, practice and expenditure will ultimately be a large problem for our division as we try to draw legislation and compete with each other.
I see Division III developing more conferences and a more sophisticated operation. I see this only as a continuation of a 10-year trend. There have been more conferences added in the last 10 years. The real emphasis will be on conference commitment. I started as a part-time commissioner 12 years ago and, when given a full-time position, I was only one of two such persons in Division III. Now, there are at least 10.
The current restructuring package is working out for Division III. We will have greater control, a little more money and, hopefully, we'll enjoy the many benefits provided by the NCAA until the year 2000. I predict that, even before the year 2000, however, there will be a new restructuring problem and a new threat to our benefits. But, we will get through that somehow, as we always do, with good and earnest people like you leading us. Those are my views on the year 2000 for Division III. Thank you.
Our third speaker, Curt Tong, the athletic director at Pomona-Pitzer College has been in that position for 12 years. Prior to which, he was the AD at Williams College for two years. He is a graduate of Otterbein College, Curt Tong.
When I moved to the west coast 12 years ago to Pomona College, I often was asked the question when I returned to the east coast in the summer, have I ever been to Vegas? I quite honestly could say, I've flown over it a few times and I've driven by it a few times, but now I can honestly say I've been to Vegas. If I can get a few minutes on a slot, today will be complete.
An athletic director friend called me the other day with a query as to what the possible impact of women's sports might be at his institution. He was very concerned as to what sport or sports he might add to his women's program in order to become gender equitable. Given the campus location, with a beautiful wide river flowing by the campus, I suggested to him that he might want to consider women's crew. They've had a very strong club program for many years. As soon as I suggested that, his quick response was, "It will be a cold day in hell when I free dollars for a bunch of folks to sit on their butts and move backwards." There's one group in this room that I think we need to thank for all that they've done and whose butts have not been sitting idly and haven't been moving backwards and I would certainly be remiss if I didn't recognize that my good friend, Dan Bridges, Judy Sweet, John Harvey and Dennis Collins and some others of you who have been working on the Restructuring Task Force certainly have put together a fine perspective and something that we can base the direction that we're heading in the coming years.
I have jokingly been referred to sometimes as the guru of Division III philosophy. I disclaim such a rubric. When I was growing up overseas, the word guru meant to pay, an item of attire that I've been trying to avoid in recent years. I shall admit to leaning very heavily on Division III philosophy as a guiding star in the conduct of my own work in this profession. For many years, unbeknownst to many of our Division III coaches across the country, the division has laid claim to a philosophical statement, which is procurable, readable, but for some strange reason, doesn't even appear in the Division III Operating Manual. Admittedly, it does appear in the bigger black version of the NCAA Manual. It has been facetiously proposed on more than one occasion that if the statement were more widely distributed and digested, we might not need a manual at all. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend such an extreme measure. After all, I think I heard it referred to as our Bible this morning. But, I would like to offer today that a thorough and full understanding of the tenets of the Division III philosophical statement would go a long way toward helping us all come to grips with what the structure of Division III in the year 2000 and beyond ought to be.
I am personally optimistic about the future of our division for several reasons. One, I do sense a heightened awareness, at least among athletic directors, that our division represents a fresh hope for the future of organized intercollegiate athletics in this country. I truly believe that sometime in the next century, our colleagues in Division I and II will be moving their programs more in line with our own. In a number of instances, they have already begun to do so. As President Crowley suggested this morning, progress is being made in moving our institutions more in line with education and less in line with entertainment. You will recall that this past January at the national convention, we put collective reasoning to the test and came forward with an updated, still incisive, philosophical statement. What that served to do, was to remind all of us in the division that Division III is driven by philosophy, we do indeed have a stated philosophy and embracing the content of that statement, we are committed to it as our guideline to follow in our decision making.
The second reason for my optimism, relative to the state of our division in the years ahead, is that the history of sport in the world supports the tenets of our divisional philosophy as the only way to conduct sports programs and still survive over the long haul. Those of you who are students of sports history are fully aware of the patterns of sport in the civilizations which preceded our own. Of the great philosophers of yesteryear was Plato, who most embodied that which I believe we, in Division III, have come to accept as the correct course in the conduct of intercollegiate and other levels of athletic competition. It was Plato, after all, who was bold enough to suggest that young girls should be educated equally with boys. Delbert (last name inaudible), formerly of Ohio State University, has attributed the following thought to Plato: The development of intellect and reason should not crowd out attention to other aspects of personal development. Plato felt that the wholesome development of the body would make a vital contribution to the development of the mind. This kind of thinking runs parallel to our own divisional concerns with the growth of students regardless of gender. It was Plato, too, who emphasized the moral value inherent in education through the physical.
We are all aware of what befell Grecian and Roman societies when greed and moral lassitude prevailed in the conduct of their sporting ventures and in the general attitudes and style of life in those societies. Honest, wholesome, competitive events, attended by interested spectators and with wreaths bedecking the heads of outstanding performers, over the course of the time became professional extravaganzas in huge stadiums like the one in Rome. Sound familiar? Even our brothers and sisters in Division I can feel the push in that direction.
History buffs, I believe, would support the thesis that the strength of a society is, to a large degree, measured by the fiber of its moral being. As the level of morality lessens in a society, so does its quality of life. The manner in which we compete in sport is one general indicator of the health of a society. My sense is that our own society is at a crossroads. As professionals in education through athletics, we can do much by insuring that fairness, purity and respect are retained in the practice of sport of America. It is easy to become entrapped in the seeming splendor of filled arenas, just as the Romans and Greeks did, media attention and the accompanying sense of status that such excitement brings. But the ultimate sense of status that such excitement brings, will ultimately be our claim in Division III, or our claim not to be in Division III.
In recent years, we have all seen through the actions of coaches' groups, the growth of the basketball tournament in Division III to 64 teams. This was patterned after the Division I program and in some of the other sports. I hear annually at the basketball coaches' convention from those Division III coaches who suggest that, as a division, we should insist on television coverage of our Division III championships and on financial support from corporate sponsorships. I would offer today that it is not the course to follow, tempting as it may seem, because it runs counter to our mission so clearly spelled out in the statement of philosophy. We are all about students, not about publicity, commercialism or dollars.
A number of difficulties, if we are to realize the good health that I sense will come in the next century, must be overcome by our membership. First, we must do a better job of educating those coaches, administrators and institutional presidents who look upon Division III as a miniature Division I only without athletic scholarships. Too many institutions new to the division have entered our ranks with an unclear sense of our mission. Far too many of our coaches, and some very good ones hired from Division I backgrounds, are totally unfamiliar with that mission. Some look upon employment at our institutions as stepping stones to the big time where the real action is. Most of these folks can recite the division's philosophy when it is appropriate, yet too often, few believe it or understand it.
Second, as a membership, we must come to resolve on the issue of growth. Divisional growth has become an issue largely because of the concerns that coaches and directors have over the effect of growth and its effect on competitive balance. My own sense of the growth issue is not so much one of a numbers problem, but that we have allowed growth to occur too haphazardly and without clear definition as to the ground rules for membership in the Division III club. For too many years, entry into Division III was, as Mr. Eason mentioned, a rubber stamp operation with only an application standing in the way of full membership. The net result was the creation of a division composed of schools having a broad range of enrollments and, worse, a broad range of philosophies. Some schools have made Division III their athletic home because the expenses of operation in other divisional options were too costly. Some have found it a sanctuary because of conference affiliations that prove favorable for geographic or other reasons. Too few have settled in because of a conviction to the tenets of Division III. That must necessarily change.
A third difficulty to overcome centers on the concerns that many purists in the division hold concerning the lack of homogeneity in the membership. Small private church affiliated schools, mostly in the Midwest, but scattered throughout the country, many of which were signature members of Division III, have found discomfort in the swell of large public universities into the ranks. There is a suspicion that the big publics (a) introduce a different kind of student into the mix, in some cases, a high number of junior college transfers; (b) that they possess a more relaxed attitude toward financial aid including the awarding of merit scholarships that seem to fall to athletic types with alarming frequency; © that the plethora of part-time coaches at some of the large publics dilutes the importance of education as a directional guide and accents, instead, cost saving and winning as the primary goals. The time-consuming chore of counseling students takes a back seat in the expectations of coaching duties; and (d) the big publics create an imbalance in what has come to be known as a level playing field.
A fourth difficulty rests on the issue of national championships. They are a chronic sore, not unlike a teenager's acne, and impede our ability to trust each other. For many schools, qualification in these championships is what it is all about and that all goals point in that direction. For a few, managing to qualify a swimmer or a track person, once or so, in every decade is a major achievement. These disparities of focus create a condition of finger pointing, and, at the least, some bewilderment as to the differences which exist in the same divisional family.
Lastly, we must establish confidence that our division is prepared to win the trust of our women students, coaches and faculty by putting forward programs that are gender equitable. The issue of gender equity is too easily resolved to allow it to tear asunder departments and institutions because of a reluctance to provide fairer opportunities for all students. When we speak in Division III of impacting athletic opportunities for participants, it speaks of all participants. Our tenets speak to fairness, openness and honesty in our relationships with all students, not a selected few. None of these difficulties facing the division are unresolvable. I do believe that with some serious soul searching, positive change for all who endorse the basic principles can be worked out. That's the privates and the publics. Then, only, might we live trustingly under the same divisional umbrella.
Such discussions may result in the formulation of recognized more comfortable subdivisions in which schools can attach themselves. These subdivisions may choose to attack these issues differently. Some, perhaps, without national championships culminating their season. Some, possibly, as a grouping of big publics with a different look at financial aid or transfers, or whatever. There are any number of possibilities in subdividing that may create a greater feeling of harmony. But with a common denominator of our philosophy of amateurism at the thread holding the groups together, I am optimistic that these differences can be worked out for the greater good if we are supportive of the philosophical tenets which guide us. There are substantial forces in academe who support and recognize the importance of functioning as we do. The alternative, I fear, is to be swept into the currents of commercialism, fenced to go the way of professional sports and some of our division neighbors.
The Greek and Roman cultures showed the way with a kind of decay and public disillusionment we see in the greed motivated sports interests in this country today. Must we follow that pattern? I think not. The American citizenry is showing signs of wearying of the big time. Stadiums and arenas are less full today than in years past. There are messages in all of this and at least one of those, is that the course of Division III is the correct one.
There is wiggled room within the framework of our philosophy, but not so much that we misinterpret its basic dictates that those young lives, for whom we are charged to serve be provided in education. We cannot only abide by our tenets, but must actively accent them by the conduct of our programs, the beauty inherent in honest competition. Then, I feel certain that our structured model can become an influential element as our society works to emerge in the doldrums of this century. We must remember that we are caretakers of lives, not programs, and that our obligation to those lives includes the provision of those life values that Plato so nobly spelled out for us. Thank you.
Thank you so much Art, Curt and Dennis. I would like to remind you that the Corbett Award and Hall of Fame Luncheon is where we had our opening session today in the Grand Ballroom. Today is especially gratifying for all of us in Division III. Betty Kruczek, a member of our very own, is going to be receiving the Corbett Award. That's something that all of us in Division III can join in and be proud of and hope to see you all at the luncheon.
Good afternoon. My name is Chuck Gordon, director of athletics at Emery University and chair of the Steering Committee of the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators. I stand before you a humble person. We had a very optimistic plan to try to do some training in a very quick basis at this Convention. We were not able to meet those very optimistic goals. Just to remind you, this is a Steering Committee that got together at the NCAA meetings. I would encourage you to contact the members of the Steering Committee to provide some input. We cannot steer if we are not helped. I would hope that it will not take us till the year 2000 to at least tie into the theme. We want to put before you a professional development program that will be of a benefit to you when we start. We have approximately 80 people in the room, from a quick head count, who represent about 50 institutions. It will, obviously, be helpful for us to expand our base or to consider doing some of our training on a regional basis if we're going to impact a good percentage of the roughly 355, soon to be 380 plus members of our group.
Again, just a couple of minutes to let you know that we will not be there at 3:00 p.m. today, but we are working hard to try to serve you in the future and to encourage you to contact the Steering Committee members if you have input, ideas and/or are willing to help us lead you. Thank you.