College Athletics in the Year 2000/A Divisional Look at the Future
(Monday, June 19, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)
Good morning. I'm David Johnsen, the AD at Iowa Wesleyan University. Let's move onto the question where will the NAIA be in the future? We'll give each panelist an opportunity to speak on that topic from their particular perspective. After each panelist has spoken, we'll open the floor for questions and discussions from any of you.
Our panel members include Dr. Cliff Hanlow from the Council of Affiliated Conferences and Independents; Lynn Adams, vice president of championships/NAIA; Dr. James Chasteen, president and CEO of the NAIA; and we're able to get Dr. David Stair from the Council of Athletic Administrators. Again, we'll ask each panelist to speak on the future of the NAIA from their perspective.
Our first speaker will be Lynn Adams.
In looking at the championships services for the NAIA, it's my pleasure to, at this time, announce one of the most exciting concepts that sport has experienced and will experience and that is the announcement of the 1998 Spring Sports Festival. It will be a reality. It is no longer just in the dream stages, but it's in the planning stages and we are planning to see our first festival in 1998.
Our plans are to bring all eight of our national championships in the spring to one location, one community and within an eight- to 10-day period, have the largest festival in collegiate history. This festival then, will claim eight championships in men's and women's track and field, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, baseball and softball. We are very excited about this. We have taken our ideas and our dreams, gone to the coaches association and have taken it to the councils, came back with favorable responses and a lot of encouragement and we feel that this is really a step for our future.
We will have approximately 3,000 athletes in one city at one time. We will have the biggest parade of champions that we have ever had and we'll have eight championships and all of their participants there. So, we have a lot of things planned. Things like having a super Sunday which would include media day, autograph sessions, youth clinics, seminars for coaches, as well as other opportunities for our athletes to continue to have their banquets and Hall of Fame. We will have a common worship service for our athletes and then the giant parade of champions to conclude that day.
We would continue throughout that week in having each of our events being highlighted as a special event for that day. So, we would have a championship event be the marquee event. We would have other competition going on, but it would revolve around that championship. We think this is a great idea and we think that this will be a real swing for us as far as media coverage and it is going to be an opportunity for us to set the stage for other events like this. That will be in 1998. We have not named a site. We're in the process of putting out site surveys and as soon as we get the surveys returned, we'll begin to look at the bids and begin to process those bids. By this time next year, hopefully, we will have a site named for 1998.
We've talked with the coaches associations and many of the people involved in spring sports and asked them what they wanted to do. Do you want to do this one time? Do you want to do this every two or four years? We were surprised when they responded, let's do it every year. When we've got a good thing, let's go with it. So, we're going to go with it for every spring and we're going to start planning along those lines.
There are a lot of things going on in championships. There's a lot of issues out there about championships, but right now the most exciting things we have going for us are the Spring Sport Festival. There are anticipated changes in other championships. That will depend on you, the members, to make those changes as far as recommendations for change. We, in the national office, are open to change. But, if we have a good thing, let's stay with it. We may need to tune up some things in some areas. Our signature for the NAIA is that we have quality championship events and we want to continue to have quality championship events. That is utmost in our minds as we go out and select the sites and hosts. As we go out and prepare for this championship, we want to provide the best experience that we can possibly extend to our athletes and that will always be foremost in our minds.
I'm the chair of the Council of Athletics Administrators and also the president of the Athletic Directors Association. I don't want to use this occasion to give you a report of the several days of meetings that we've had here. I'll do that at the larger session tomorrow at the Business Session of the ADA. We'd like to invite all of you to attend that meeting for reports from the Council of Athletics Administrators and the ADA. I'd like my remarks to be more general than a report because we're talking about the year 2000 and where will the NAIA be, what will it be like and I'm not really sure.
If you're like me as an athletic administrator, you wish that we could put the train on the track and have it run down a straight track, and we knew from one year to the next exactly what was coming and knew what all of the rules were going to be. In today's athletic world, that doesn't happen. Listening to the General Session this morning, it seems like all of the things that we talk about in the NAIA, the NCAA is talking about too. They have concerns about restructuring, financial aid, eligibility, finances, reimbursements and all of the things that we talk about. I don't think the legitimate discussions we have about these things will ever change. I don't think we'll ever get to the place where we have arrived and we've got the perfect organization. We don't ever have to talk about things anymore, however, society changes and our programs change and we have to react to change as an organization.
Some of the positive things I see happening, and have seen happening over the last few years in the NAIA, is the fact that we seem to have a greater voice from the membership to the national office. We have had a couple of meetings where those of us who chair the various committees get together with the folks from the national office for a couple of days of nonstop brainstorming. It's an opportunity for us to discuss the concerns of the membership and an opportunity for us to brainstorm on solutions, on new ideas. We spent a lot of time talking about the Spring Sports Festival idea, among many others. We talked about reimbursement for travel to national championships, financial aid guidelines and on and on it goes. Those kinds of discussions are healthy. For many years, those of us in the membership felt like we really didn't have the opportunity to sit down for hours at a time with the folks who were running our organization and just talk to them. That is now happening. The third leadership summit will take place in July which will make this the third of that type of meeting in a year's time. That's a healthy thing that's happening.
The question that is asked most of me and I'm assuming it's asked of many other people in the organization as well, is, will the NAIA continue to be? Can it continue to function, because we do have fewer members now than we had a few years ago and we may have fewer members in a few more years? So, what is going to happen long term? I don't know that anybody can look into a crystal ball and know what's going to happen. I do know that our school and a lot of other schools like us, feel that the NAIA is the best fit for our athletic program. We don't fit well in Divisions I, II or III in the NCAA. We have fit well into the NAIA for years and continue to feel like that's the case. Many colleges out there feel the same way. As long as there are, there's a very active place for the organization of the NAIA. In the future, with innovative things happening like the Spring Sports Festival, we could begin to turn the corner and begin to grow again. In my opinion, if we're thinking and working and planning and innovating over the years, we will have a vital organization. We will be happy as people who are in the organization. Others will see that happiness and it will begin to look more attractive to them.
I like the grass roots participation that we have in the NAIA. Anybody who wants to get actively involved in the NAIA can be involved and have a vital role. I like the idea that in the NAIA, the student-athlete is important. The concept of graduation and normal progress toward graduation is the dog wagging the tail. We're not giving lip service to that in any division in the NAIA. That's probably the most important thing. That will help us, in the NAIA, to retain our identity.
I could go on. As far as I'm concerned, there are a lot of good things about the NAIA that will help us to, not just survive in the year 2000, but help us be a vital and growing organization.
I didn't ask anybody about what I'm going to say today. I'll take full responsibility for it. I think I've listened. I'm going to suggest that the NAIA is us. There are 45 of us in this room. It's not the figment of somebody's imagination some place. It's us. So, when we talk about the NAIA, we're talking about ourselves. If we're talking about ourselves being bad, then we need to fix it. From my perspective, we're the NAIA, not a national office staff, but a membership. As we look at the year 2000, we're talking about repositioning the NAIA. If you came to listen to the obituary of the NAIA, you've got the wrong guy giving the sermon because I think we're very much alive and very well. If we start thinking that and talking that, we'll even get healthier.
We're not NCAA Division II. We're not NCAA Division III. We're the NAIA. From my perspective, in the years that I've been coaching and been an athletic director, and in my position now, we don't fit either of them. Most of our schools desire to be an NAIA school for what the NAIA stands for.
I'd like to talk about what I see as unique aspects of the NAIA that I don't apologize for. Sometimes people ask us what is the NAIA? I have a lot ask me where's Azusa. Now, does that make Azusa no good? Absolutely not! Azusa University is a good place and it's an outstanding academic institution and a good athletic institution. If I have to tell them where Azusa is, so be it. I'm proud to do that. So, it doesn't bother me one bit when somebody says it's an NAIA school. That's not down for me. That's right where I am and I'm not going to apologize for it.
We're a healthy organization and we have an opportunity before us. As we reposition ourselves, there's some things we need to do. I'd like to suggest that our governance is set and it's working well. At the last meeting of the Council of Presidents, which we have an opportunity to attend as council chairs, we had a very engaged group of presidents who didn't come to show up, to let people see they're there and then go some place else. They were not doing their institution's business other than for an academic sense. I think that's good and what we have to have.
I think our championships are strong. I would have loved to have all of you in Azusa, California for the national track and field championships. I don't think that any division anyplace puts on a better championship than was put on for our student-athletes in that championship event. That's happening in most of our events. We may have to talk to the people of Tulsa about the basketball championship because it needs to pick up. We've got to put it to them straight.
I think we're on the verge of being a leader and having another hallmark for the NAIA in the definition of financial aid. We were the first institution to recognize that black schools existed and that they were an important component in athletics. We were the first institution to have a women's program and a women's division and develop a place for women in leadership in the NAIA. We will be a leader by the definition of our financial aid and it will have a definition that will have integrity to it. There isn't a one of us that doesn't look at the NCAA Division III and say, in some aspects, it lacks integrity because all of the money isn't on the table. How that's going to be defined, I can give you an opinion, but I can't say that's the way it's going to end. We're going to define financial aid and we have an opportunity to be a leader so that nobody can question what financial aid is at any one of our institutions. That may mean that we have to change the numbers that we allow for scholarship, so be it. We can do that. We've got plenty of smarts in the NAIA. We don't have to have somebody else do that for us.
The conferences are getting recognition. At the Council of the Affiliated Conferences and Independents, we have put in a recommendation that will go to the National Coordinating Committee that we establish a standing committee for independents. We do not want to disenfranchise independents. We want them to have a way to be an active and vital part of the NAIA. They're important to us and we're not just a conference institution. I think that we are the only athletic organization with integrity in our eligibility.
I want to move to some NAIA positives. We have an emphasis on the student-athlete and that student graduating. There'll be a proposal to have a fifth year of competition again and some of you will smile and say, "Warren Emory's back." Some of you may remember way back to the athletic director at Cal Tech. We want to see athletes graduate and find a way to do it with integrity. We have a commitment to values in the NAIA. We don't endorse alcoholic beverages and we don't depend upon the revenue from alcoholic beverages to run our athletic programs. We have a stance that if an institution doesn't want to commit to play on Sunday, they do not have to play on Sunday. That fits the orientation of many of our institutions. We have limited rules related to recruitment so that we don't have to have an army of people policing recruitment. Coaches can talk and develop a relationship. We are an organization of relationships.
As a professional, the coach and the athletic director in the NAIA can make a significant impact, and do every day, upon the national organization because the national organization is athletic directors and coaches - and presidents now. That's good. Athletics is a distinct academic model because we have academic expectations for every contest our athletes take part in. The NCAA cannot make that statement. I'm not here to bad mouth the NCAA. I'm here to say that we're different. Let's say good and not apologize for being different.
The student-athlete is a part of the mission of our institutions. Each of our institutions has a mission. We do not have to operate athletics as a business. We operate it as an integral part of our academic and university college missions. We have a philosophy of participation. That's one of the things that this organization will continue to need to discuss as it relates to participation and reimbursement. Every athlete in the NAIA on every one of our teams has an opportunity to compete in a national championship if she or he qualifies. There's nobody making a decision to eliminate people. We can earn our way into that situation.
I see the NAIA as friends working with friends for the best of student-athletes. Our commitment is to education, not filling arenas and stadiums. I think we provide athletics with a clear conscience. That's why I believe in the NAIA. It's a grassroots, volunteer organization. We all spend a lot of time. We had a council come in on Wednesday and started to work and they work hard. They are working on behalf of every one of us. They're the NAIA. We're the NAIA.
We do not ride on the coat tails of the big guys and the decisions that the big guys make don't affect us because we're the people. In the NCAA, you take away the television money from the Division Is and the IIs and IIIs, are in the same boat we're in. Well, we want to share that for a while, that's good.
At the convention, we need a clear three-year projection of what we expect our membership to be and we develop strategies and goals to reach it. We need to develop a road map and we're in that process. The Council of Presidents is working on that as well as committees. We can't succeed if we allow ourselves to continue to be banged around by forces of influence that we can't control. A lot of that is the rumor mill or, we're leaving because of prestige. Azusa Pacific doesn't belong to the NAIA nor would they belong to the NCAA to hang their prestige badge out. We're good because of what we do at Azusa Pacific. You're good because of what you do at your universities and colleges. So, we don't need to identify with some prestigious group. We're prestigious. You're prestigious. We're colleagues.
I want to suggest some bold moves. Again, I may make some people unhappy with me. I'll look at you exactly like I look at an athlete that I recruit and lose. You're still my friend. You're at some place else and because you chose to go there, doesn't make you any less or any better. It's a choice that you made. Bold moves that I think we ought to consider: one, eliminate dual membership. If my coach resigned at my institution or agreed to coach at your institution, he or she is longer going to coach at my institution. One or the other. I know that sounds unkind for those who have left us. We don't need to be a buffer. Allow institutions to join by sport. I know we've discussed that in the NAIA. We may need to reduce the membership services, or we may need to prioritize the membership services so that there can be some revising in the national office to meet some of the needs that we sense that we have now. At least, it needs to be looked at. We need to look at participation, cutting the number of teams in championships, maybe only for a period of time. I'd like to see us give a one-year moratorium on dues and championships and allow championship play for any former member that desires to return. We have members that desire to return and they want to do it with dignity. That's a concession. We need to expect the COP to give us leadership in raising the necessary funds and I would like to see a plan for a five-million-dollar capital campaign. It may be all for endowment. If we have five million dollars and made seven and one half percent, we'd have some $370,000 to spend toward championships and reimbursement, etc. We need a goal and we need to get it on the table and need to move.
Those are thoughts of mine about the NAIA. I don't see the NAIA being dead at all. I see it being very alive because it's us and there are 380 some of us and we need to get on at being the best NAIA in the country. Thank you.
Thank you. I think you can see the commitment that Cliff, Lynn and David have to the NAIA. I thought about these comments for several weeks and contemplated talking about the history that Cliff alluded to. To understand where we'll be in the future and to look at the future, we have to appreciate where we've been. I've read again the history of the NAIA and our magazines over the last few weeks. We've been on the cutting edge of some rather significant issues and the NAIA has stepped forward, stood up and has been counted. We'll continue to want to do that in the future. I sense that we're having a stronger feeling that it is a good partnership and it's all of us working together to make a stronger NAIA and to position us for the future.
As you sit back and think about all the people in this room and others who have brought us to this point, it helps us to appreciate where we are today. I think it positions us for the future. I say that because I firmly believe we are at a point in history where we have together the best leadership that we've ever had. We've had great leaders at any point in history, but at this point in our history, as I look at every single council and committee, we've got the cream of the crop. We now have people who are NAIA to the core and are committed to the future of NAIA. That makes me very optimistic about the future. We don't have people who are not committed to the NAIA now as chairs of various committees. We have people who are dedicated, who understand it, who appreciate the history and the philosophy, believe very strongly in it and it's all coming together.
Yesterday, at a meeting, a question was asked that had to do with our Council of Presidents. We have a group that is very dedicated. They all come to the meetings and stay through the meetings and I believe that we have the best Council of President in the history of the Council of Presidents. We have a group that is dedicated and very interested in the future of the NAIA. I'm saying that we are in the best position we've ever been to address some issues, hopefully, to solve some problems and to go into the future with some excitement.
I would like to reiterate some things already mentioned. David mentioned the leadership council that we've formed. As the chair of each of our councils, we'll be meeting again in July for several days of sitting and brainstorming about the future of NAIA. It's a group that's coming together as a team. It's very important that we have them to work together. We've had a group appointed to look at the membership of the NAIA. There are a lot of questions and interest in the membership and we'll be looking at recruitment of members and retention of members with some specific strategies on how we might do a better job relative to our membership. It's not significantly different from what you do on your campus whether you're recruiting student-athletes, or you're recruiting students in general. You're best recruiters of students are your students. If they are having a good experience, they are going to assist you in getting students in the future. We need to put more emphasis on ways to provide more service to the members that we presently have and this committee will do this. All committees are prepared to move us into the future.
I would like to discuss some of those issues that we'll be dealing with. Funding is probably the most frequent question asked in discussion primarily for distribution back to teams that travel and individuals who travel to tournaments. We're looking at primarily two levels. One, to do more at the local, state level and regional level in ways that we might raise money which then can be used to provide funds for individuals and teams to travel to regional or national championships and funding efforts at the national level. The Council of Presidents, again, has taken this under discussion. They're looking at what they can do individually to raise some money and to be committed to a certain amount of money in their area and then can provide to the conferences and to the region for reimbursement and what their role might be. We're asking them to give two days a year, which doesn't seem much, but in a president's life, it's a lot. We want them to assist with fund raising for the NAIA. That's one issue, funding for the NAIA and a new approach to funding national championship events. A consistency of reimbursements and more money for reimbursements, not just to take the same piece of pie and split it differently, but to get larger pieces of pie. To look at the formula of how we distribute money that's raised by you at the conference level and regional level and to utilize that more effectively for travel.
Another issue with which we're dealing with is gender equity and our commitment to gender equity. We want to constantly look at ways to develop opportunities of leadership and participation for all of our members, but particularly, women. We've had some concern about the decrease in number of women going into coaching and athletics administration and we want to look at ways the NAIA can provide some leadership and addressing particular issues to make sure that on all of our committees and council, we have balance. Gender equity issues will continue to impact all of intercollegiate athletics and I hope the NAIA can step forward and be a leader in that particular regard.
Another topic that we haven't given much attention to, but will get even more attention in the future is, hopefully, some programs on sportsmanship. We're actually looking at broadening that concept to include more than just sportsmanship, but also to look at the whole question of citizenship. We don't see much stability in some areas these days. Jesse Jackson beautifully addressed that. Athletics may not be a microcosm of our cultural in general, but many of us think it is. Through athletics, we can teach some very valuable lessons to young people. We've had some meetings to look at a program that we can get funded that through the NAIA, we can develop some materials, workshops to deal with citizenship and how, through athletics, we can impact our young people from the coach's behavior to student behavior to fan behavior. There are certain values that we feel strongly about that were alluded to by Cliff. We feel that we are in a good position since we believe so strongly in those values we ought to be able to communicate those effectively to the young people with whom we work. Hopefully, we will have some programs and that might stimulate some interest on your part and some others that the NAIA step forward and do more in that particular arena.
Some specific things that were alluded to in addition to issues are the Spring Festival which is very exciting for us. Cliff discussed the proposal we'll have again for five years of eligibility. Athletic-related aid has many ramifications, but we've got to address that and get some closure, not only on the definition of athletic aid, but also on the limits that would be established of this new definition if we, in fact, go in that direction. My suggestion is that we collect some data for a year or two because we don't really know what our institutions are doing relative athletic-related aid and aid in general for student-athletes. We want to look at those and come up with some sound information. That particular topic has a lot of ramifications. I will mention that one of the challenges we have with that is there are so many different perspectives brought to that table. Generally, presidents look at athletic aid for students as it relates to student recruitment. Many of us look at it as it relates to a level playing field. Bringing those different perspectives together to come to a resolution of that issue will be a challenge, but by the fall, hopefully, we will make considerable progress on athletic aid. We are working on a strategic plan.
We're going to take to the leadership council this summer some basic assumptions about the future of the NAIA and once we get those solidified and pulled together, we will share that with those of you at the convention and through the NAIA News what I think and what this council thinks are some basic assumptions on which we will build the NAIA and the future of the NAIA. A commitment to the philosophy that was mentioned earlier. That athletics is viewed as a recruiting instrument, athletics will continue to be seen as an education in itself and a part of the total educational program. From that, we will polish and finalize the plans for the future of the NAIA.
We've got to look at the philosophy of the NAIA as it relates to participation in postseason play. If you look at the history of the NAIA, one of the things we felt strongly about is that an athlete ought to have an opportunity to participate in postseason play. We need to visit that. We have a lot of opportunities for students and the more opportunities we give them, the more money it costs. It does spread some of it thin. Do we want two 24-team championships? As NAIA, we need to lay all of those issues on the table. There are many other issues to talk about. It does strike me that we should quit talking and let you ask questions.
I think because of the history of the NAIA, as a result of our history, and because we have such dedicated leaders at this point, I'm really optimistic and very excited about the future of the NAIA. I have a philosophy that we only have a problem if one of two things exist -- if we have things going on and we don't face them and deal with them, that's a problem. Otherwise, it's a challenge. If something is going on around us and we don't know about it, that's a problem. We have leaders today who are very alert and very anxious to drive the NAIA in the future and that's very exciting for me. To have people like you who are committed to the NAIA is very exciting.
We've been stimulated by these speakers today and we thank you for coming.