Junior/Community Colleges Breakout
Good morning. My name is John Stauff, the athletic director at Ocean County College. It's nice to be here and to see such good attendance. I appreciate you coming out and taking part in this meeting. We had a long discussion a few minutes ago on restructuring with Cedric Dempsey. Yesterday, we went through a look at the student-athlete as the changes have appeared on the horizon. We know, from our own experience, we have many things we must look at and take care of for the future. We had Billy Payne who was very inspirational and gave us a lot of things to think about relative to our own programs. We had some interesting discussions by Dr. Pierce from the AACC and looking at the direction of community colleges in its role in higher education. When you stop to look at things, we're in the state of flux. Many of the things we took for granted in the past are not going to fly anymore. We must look at ways to do things better to meet the needs of our student-athletes.
This morning, it gives me great pleasure to have a person speaking to us who has traveled many roads and done many things for community college and junior college athletics in his long tenure as executive director. As we look ahead, we have many roads and hills to climb and many things to do. With George Killian's insight, we'll be able to do that and be able to do it adequately.
George holds a BS degree from Ohio Northern University, a bachelor's degree from the University of Buffalo. He has an honorary doctorate from Ohio Northern University. He has coached at the high school level and at the community college level. His coaching and athletics administration was from 1954 until 1969. He was head coach and athletic director at Erie County Technical Institute in Buffalo, New York. George has two pages of awards bestowed upon him during that period of time, which I won't highlight for you. I will indicate to you, that as far as his membership is concerned, he's been a member of the executive committee of the U.S. Olympic Committee since 1967. Of course, he's been a member of the NCAA Junior College Relationship Committee.
George has been executive director of the NJCAA since 1967. During that time, he has seen many changes in community college athletics. My relationship with Mr. Killian goes back to the early '70s. My initial experience with the NJCAA was when it was a somewhat informal organization. At that point in time, it was under rapid growth and looking for leadership and George Killian provided that leadership. If you look at some of the things we've done as far as the NJCAA is concerned, we were the first national body to establish a women's division. That division has been very functional and outstanding and has proven to be a leader as far as the other national organizations are concerned. We've come through the division structure within that organization, both men's and women's division, and have done a nice job under the leadership of the national association. We are very fortunate to have George Killian speaking to us this morning.
Thank you. The only reason you have a four-page bio is because if you hang around long enough, it gets thicker and thicker. When I look out on the audience, I think I'm about ready to preach to the choir because most of you I have worked with for a long period of time and you know a little bit of how I feel about certain things. For example, I see Lea Plarski sitting out there, who was our president for the past six years. We have conversed since 1975 back and forth on the phone. Some of the things I'm going to talk about this morning, you might have heard me speak about before.
When John called me and asked me to do this, I asked him what he wanted me to do. He tried to give me some pointers on what he thought you might like to hear. I made out a memo and sent it to three colleagues in the office. I didn't tell them what I wanted to do with it, I just asked them within the next week or two, to give me what they thought are the problems of the future. What would you like us to do? What should we be doing? They came into the office, put them on my desk. I read them and, lo and behold, all three were similar in nature.
When we talk about the NJCAA, I have to take you back to the beginning. I'm going to try to interweave three areas because I want to talk about people. I want to talk about individuals because individuals make up the NJCAA. We don't have any secret formula. We depend upon individuals. Let me give you a little background on the NJCAA. Regardless of what some people think, I was not at the first meeting in 1938.
If you look at our book, you'll notice the people who started the NJCAA came from California. Dr. Leland Byrd wrote a health education book which I've used for 15 years. I think I sold more books for Dr. Byrd than anyone else. If you read that, you'll find that in 1938, when they started the NJCAA, California was so far ahead of everybody else in community college work, even though you who have been in the business know that Joliet, Illinois, gets most of the credit for the beginning of community college work. We started out and most of the activities we had left California being the champion because they had the bulk of the schools. As time went on, the war came along. That slowed things down. After the war, through the courtesy of Uncle Sam, community college education started to mushroom around the country. Up until 1969, the NJCAA was an organization made up of individuals who met once a year, went home and then everything ran out of your back pocket. This is important because we really were not an organization of any professional level as we know professional organizations today until 1969. I'm not so sure we were professional in 1969.
We started out with two people, myself and a secretary. I'm not going to bore you with the details of where we are today from where we were in 1969. During that period, when you talk about governance, we only had one major change from what we are doing today. That was in 1975, when we started a women's division. The only reason we started a women's division, and I'll be frank and honest with you, at that time, there was a women's organization called the AIAW. At that time, none of us wanted to have women involved in our organization. I can say that because most of the people who were there at that time are no longer connected with the NJCAA. They're upstairs, not many of them are downstairs. Most of them are upstairs. Therefore, I can make that comment this morning. There are still a few of them around who were very much opposed a women's division.
What happened was Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York, won an AIAW playoff. This shocked the ladies from the AIAW. They decided they didn't want Orange County in their playoffs, so they invented another step. They said no, you'll have to play again next week because they thought they could eliminate Orange County and wouldn't have any community college representation in the AIAW basketball championship. When I heard that, I became very upset. I finally said to many of our people, "Look, all they want is your money. They just want your dues. They need it to function." I convinced our president at that time that what we ought to do is get a few of the women, bring them in and have a special committee. Lea happened to be on that group. From that, we developed a women's division in the NJCAA.
That was the only major change we had from 1938 to the current time. When you look at government, I don't want anybody to think this morning when you leave, that I'm talking to anybody in this room. When I called Wayne and Mary Ellen and Sarah into the office and we talked about this, we wondered if we could continue to exist today as we did in 1938. Look in our book. I went into our library and picked out a handbook from 1969 and it was about so thick. That's what we have today. It's over a pound. What we have in that has changed has been made because of the time period in which we live.
In our discussion in the office, everything we talked about came back to one topic and that is individuals. Individuals not only get involved in the administration of the NJCAA, they get involved in the whole program of the NJCAA. If I have a tendency to go from one side to the other, bear with me because I'm going to try to tie this all together.
As you know, right now, we govern ourselves by regions. For a long time, we had 16 regions. In those regions, we elected a regional director. That person was to be the spokesperson for those schools within that geographical region. When we got more and more members, we expanded from 16 to 24. When we added the women's division, we copied the same governing structure. From those regional directors, we then selected committees. Those committees are responsible for various functions within the organization. That's where we are today. Remember, this is 1996. This structure came from 1938.
So, the question is should we continue or should we change? If we change, what do we change to? I haven't got the answer. I am not a magician. I could put a crystal ball up here and I could pick something out of the ball and say, "This is what I think." I can't do that, in all honesty, because I have never studied the situation. You go to the NCAA and they're talking about things that in no way are connected with what we do because most of their problems revolve around money.
Recently, we have changed our structure for our sport programs to districts. In our discussion in the office, we discussed whether to go from regions to districts. If you go to districts, it really changes the fundamental structure of what we've had since 1938. Should we go to a concept where we have an annual meeting and every college comes like the NCAA and everybody has one vote? I'm not sure the NCAA is going to continue that. In talking with Ced, I'm not sure he knows exactly how their new structure is going to work. Or, do we have a Council of Presidents, and some of you will shudder when I mention that? We have, let's say 15 or 25 college presidents now sitting up on top and telling us what to do. I don't know. I don't know whether there's any need to change what we are doing. But, what concerns us in the office are individuals. The person who was involved in athletics in 1938 is not the same kind of person that we have involved in athletics today.
For years and years, the kind of person we had was one that was totally involved as an advocate with our organization. Today, we have a lot of problems. We have problems electing regional directors. In some of our regions, we have to beg people to be the regional director. To be a regional director and to work within our system requires a person of great dedication. You really have to love the NJCAA to be an outstanding regional director because you are the conduit through which information passes on to the national office. If you are not the kind of person who really wants to be involved as a regional director, then one should not take that job. We have excellent regional directors. We have good regional directors and we have poor regional directors. Why? Because in 1996, there are many reasons people can't do what we did in 1966. Times have changed.
This carries over when we run our various national championships. One of the things regional directors say to our office staff is, "I don't have the time. I have another job. I can't devote the energy you need in order for me to do what you want us to do." I'm talking about the demands we make on the regional director. If you don't believe me, look around the room because I see regional directors here. All of the people here in this room are our better regional directors. That's why they're here. They have a genuine interest in what we're doing. Now, don't run back and tell the regional director I said he was a lousy regional director. Don't do that. The point I'm trying to make is that individuals who serve in a voluntary capacity today are different than they were 20 years ago. Believe me. The athletic director today is different than he was 20 years ago.
As long as we have a form of government that depends on the regional director and if we continue to go this way, we need stronger people. We need more dedicated people and we need people who have time, time and time. I don't know how many times Wayne and I, Wayne particularly, deal with little things like just recently in our national baseball championship, there were little things like we need a picture of your regional winner. Now, that might not seem very important to people sitting out here, but to the person who hosts this event, this is paramount that he gets this material. You have to spend 20 or 30 hours on the phone prior to a national championship to get the kind of material you need to make that program successful.
Let's think for a few minutes and when we're done, you can fire away. What would you do? What would your recommendations be to us and when I say us, I'm talking to our Board of Directors? What would your recommendations be? Should we stay as we are? Do we think about changing our form of government? If we decide to change it, how would you change it? This isn't something you do overnight. This is something that has to be thought out, discussed and debated for a number of years in order to make anything worthwhile.
Let me carry this over to our sport program, to our national championships because that's really why we're in business. I think we have a number of functions. One, we run national championships and two, we have as our strong point, eligibility. We play on a level playing field. Three, we divide into divisions which make the playing field even more level. Those are really what we do, each and every day. When we conduct national championships, this brings to us the kind of image that pushes us out into the school college community. It puts us on a level with the NCAA and the NAIA. Since we have moved to divisions, we have created another problem. Again, this boils down to individuals. We have the availability of sites becoming very difficult for Divisions II and III. Many of our Division I sites, like men's basketball and men's baseball, we've been at these sites for 40 years or more. We don't have any problem. Those are our big money makers. Those are the reasons we don't need to increase our dues, reasons we don't need any more money in the office of which we are very proud so we don't have to come back every other year to increase dues. We haven't done that and we're very proud of that.
What happens when we do not have individuals sitting out here that are willing to say I will host a national championship? If you look in our handbook, 10 years ago, you'll never see the word "TBA" used. Never! We always had everything done years ahead of time. But now, every year we go to press with our handbook. We don't have the complete schedules in there. We're out begging people to host our championship events. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, that was not true. We had an excess of people who wanted to get involved with us in conducting a national championship.
Last week, I was about to attend our golf championship in Scottsdale and I made the supreme sacrifice to help our program by playing with some local people I happened to play with earlier. It was 111 degrees when we teed off. We made that supreme sacrifice that day in order to help our golf people.
That individual who brings a team to any of our national championships has to be the kind of person who comes in and says, "Hey, you guys are doing a good job." We take criticism. We try to correct it the following year. We are losing the ability to have people host our events because of individuals. I've heard all of the complaints. Some of the problems we run into on college campuses are not the problems of individuals. They're problems of how the college is run. In talking to one of our baseball coaches at our national championships when it began to rain, all of our guys grabbed a rake and began to rake, and he said to me, "Isn't this great?" I said, "It's raining like hell. My shoes are muddy. What are we doing here?" We were doing it because these are the kind of people running baseball. I asked him, "Why, don't you do this at your school?" He said, "No. The union runs our grounds and we cannot touch anything without having someone come from the grounds department, who belongs to a union, in order to take care of the field." That's not something that we, as individuals, can correct.
I remember in the old days, I used to bid on every regional championship, every national championship I could bid on. In those days, you knew the host could play. If you had a lousy team, you were still in as long as you hosted it. We wanted to be part of the NJCAA. We wanted to make a contribution. I know everybody in this room would like to make a contribution.
The other problem we have with our current structure is finances. One of the things that came out in our conversation in the office was how to give back to our membership some help for the amount of money it cost to go and play in our championships. This has nothing to do with individuals except that if you host an event, we ask that you do the best you can in order to give back, whether it's only a meal. Anything to help the people who come to play in our championships.
One of the things Lea and I have tried to do in the past six years was to eliminate entry fees into our national championships. But again, when you're talking with a host, it's difficult to get them to host an event without entry fees. In the sport of basketball and in the sport of baseball, we make a considerable return on monies that we've been able to collect from Louisville Slugger, for example. We give most of that money to the teams that compete. The same thing is true in basketball. The money we make from the profits, we distribute back in a formula to our people.
Do we or do we not make a change on how we operate? How are we going to get you or other people from your area to take a more active volunteer role assuming responsibilities that we need in order to progress in the next 10 years? I don't know. I could sit and talk all day and if I would say that I would retire tomorrow, I could be even more frank on what I'd like to see happen in the years to come.
I would like to speak a little bit about our student body because it's changing. I'm not going to get into details because Wayne will do this in his next presentation when he talks about eligibility rules. Our student body is going to change dramatically and if it changes the way I think it's going to change, how does that affect the overall organization? We're just going to have to sit back and wait a year or two and see what happens. We've spent a lot of time with the Office of Civil Rights talking about the learning disabled. We've already heard all kinds of rumors about what you do and how you work this into your program. I shudder to think that, all of a sudden, we have 12 players on our basketball team or 20 players on our baseball team all learning disabled, all taking three or six hours of classes.
Recently, I read a nice article which was in the Community College Times. This scared me to death. This was an address given by Robert Atwell, president of the American Council on Education, whom I happen to know very well. What happens if, all of a sudden, we have kids who are going to take two years of remedial work, or for one solid year, they do nothing but remedial work? Then, we try to carry this over. It's possible that if we do what is in this article, we are going to have students going to school doing nothing but remedial work. According to the experts, this is the kind of thing we need to do.
Last, but not least, one that really is thrown at me all the time, it was again last week at the golf championship, and that's the use of foreign students. We started this problem. We've been looking at foreign students every year for about the last three or four years when we're talking about a changing student population. We've never come to a conclusion because there are so many facets of the foreign student problem you can't put your finger on it and say, there. I got a letter from a lady in Kansas who was a spectator at our NJCAA Track and Field Championship. I haven't had a chance to find out whether she had a grandson or someone else running in it, but she wrote a two-page handwritten letter complaining that in one of our events, we had eight people from Kenya in the same race. As you know, we give out All-American certificates for the first so many. All of the young men from Kenya got All-American certificates and we've tried to solve that problem too. It's not been easy.
Let me try to put this in a very simple way. I put this all out to you and I know it might have been jumbled, but I want you to think about this. I'd like each and every one of you in this room, starting in September to be a good volunteer. I'd like many of you in this room to either consider being a regional director, consider being an assistant regional director or consider being a host to an event, anything to help us grow in the years ahead. You can't just sit back and say it's not that important. We're not that involved, but you have to be involved. If you don't become involved, then five years from now, we might have to have a different structure than we have right now. Think about it.
We, in the NJCAA, do not run this organization. A lot of people think we do. We don't. We have a Board of Directors, 48 regional directors, plus four presidents. We have 52 votes and whatever those 52 votes wind up as, that's what we do. Even though we have committees for our various sports, those committee reports come back, they have to be voted on either by the men or by the women. We don't have that much input as to what happens. We can tell the committee chairs our experiences over the years, but everything revolves around you as an individual. I get tired of people calling me and saying, "I don't like what our region is doing." If you don't like what your region is doing, do something about it. Go to the meetings, become a part of it. In that way, you start up the ladder and you help us at the national level. I can look around this room and thank many people for the contributions that they have made over the years. You who have hosted events for us make us very happy. In fact, we're enthused when you do this. When we send out bid forms, if we get 10 people who all want to host the same thing, we know we've made progress.
I'm going to sit down and ask if you have any ideas on what you think we ought to be doing, let us know. Let us know whether you want to stay where we are or whether we want to change. If we change, why are we changing? What would be the advantage of changing what we do right now?
George has consented to stay over for tomorrow's breakout sessions. You can ask him specifically about those topics and concerns. Thank you for your attendance.
The New Structure of College Athletics
(Tuesday, June 11, 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.)