» «

NAIA Breakout Session
State of the Association Report
(Tuesday, June 16, 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.)

Greg Feris:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Greg Feris, the director of athletics at Wayland Baptist University. I will be introducing a couple of folks this morning and making a couple of announcements. You will recall that we have two other NAIA Breakout Sessions this morning. We do have a Breakout Session that starts at 10:15, and then Dr. Yandell will conduct our Annual Business Session this morning. Both of those meetings will be here in this same room.

I would also like to remind you that the NACDA Scholarship Awards Luncheon begins this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. We have four NAIA students that will be recognized at that function along with NCAA Division I, II and III students. Later this morning, at our Business Session, I'll give you a little update on the Sears Directors' Cup.

Before I introduce Dr. Will Crouch, I would like to recognize a small group here to conduct other business. These are individuals who work very hard on behalf of the NAIA and our various programs. They are here in another capacity and have met over the last couple of days. That's the Executive Committee of our Council of Presidents. I would like to ask these individuals to stand and after we have recognized them, let's give them a round of applause.

On my left is Dr. Bill Crouch, president of Georgetown College, a member of the Mid-South Conference. He is chair of the Executive Committee and the Council of Presidents; Dr. Sheila Stearns, chancellor at Western Montana College, member of the Frontier Conference and the immediate past chair of the Council of Presidents; Dr. James Bultman, president of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, member of the Nebraska-Iowa Athletic Conference; Dr. Mike Easton, president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, a member of the Maine Athletic Conference; and Dr. Barry Dorsey, president of the University of Rio Grande in Rio Grande, Ohio and a member of the American Mid-East Conference. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Executive Committee of the Council of Presidents.

I'd like to ask Dr. Crouch to step to the podium to introduce Mr. Baker. Most of you know, Dr. Crouch is in his second year as chair of the Council of Presidents and the Executive Committee. Dr. Crouch has done great things at Georgetown College and was one of the individuals who gave birth to the Mid-South Conference. That is not just coming into it's own, but is in its own in terms of the NAIA and what it does in this part of the world.

We are grateful you and the others have joined us this morning.

Bill Crouch:

Thank you Greg, and thank all of you for what you do on behalf of the NAIA. Steve and I were just talking about how much sense it makes for the Administrative Committee to be here during your meeting to give us the opportunity to react to things along the way and also to see how hard you work. This is the first time the Administrative Committee has combined the meeting with this meeting and it might be something we'll continue to do in the future.

It's a privilege for me to introduce Steve Baker. All of you know him and have heard about what he's bringing to our organization. I had the opportunity to serve on the Search Committee that Sheila Stearns chaired to find Steve. We were quite clear on the type of leadership we felt this organization needed to have. Someone with a marketing background, someone who understood the world of sports and the business of sports, someone who had good communication skills and someone who had a vision.

We interviewed many people, and people in many high places and with outstanding credentials, but when we heard about Steve Baker and began having the initial conversations, we were convinced right off the bat that this is the person to lead the NAIA where we wanted to go. You know he's a former NAIA coach, played baseball in college. He coached at the University of Denver when it was an NAIA school. He has a MBA from Northwestern and was with Major League Baseball International for a number of years before joining the NAIA.

It was rumored this morning around the Hilton that last night, in an ESPN interview with Mark McGwire, when asked if he felt if he would break Roger Maris' record this year, he implied that he felt he would. He said, "I know I would if Steve Baker was still pitching in Major League Baseball." His reputation proceeds him. I believe we're in the process of breaking many records for home runs and Steve Baker is our coach and we're delighted to have him here. Join me in welcoming Steve Baker.

Steve Baker:

Thank you. Luckily, I don't pitch anymore. I would help break a lot of records, not just McGwire's. He mentioned a brief coaching stint I had with the University of Denver while going to school there. As a pitching coach for one year, I led a team of pitchers that had an ERA at the end of the season of 11.5. I didn't learn much on the mounds.

I appreciate Bill's introduction and covering some of my background and saying some nice things about me. It's probably the last time I'll be introduced that way. It's time for action and results and I hope that in the future, as I'm introduced or any other representatives of the NAIA are, people say some great things about some things we've accomplished in a short period of time. I think we're heading in that direction very quickly.

I want to thank you all for being here. It's a tough place to get to for all of us, but it's a wonderful Convention. In the two years I've been coming to NACDA, I'm so impressed with how they operate this Convention, and, certainly the seminars they put on. They're so educational and so up-to-date. I wish I had more time to go to those and learn something myself. I hope it's been rewarding for you as it has been for everyone.

I also want to personally thank Greg Feris for his continued involvement with NACDA at the executive level. In recent years, Greg has advanced the interests of the NAIA with NACDA with our presence and I think we need to continue to support him and for all of us to get more involved, perhaps in conducting seminars, and get a bigger face of NAIA at NACDA every year.

Thank you very much, Greg, for all of your efforts.

As Greg mentioned, the Sears Directors' Cup Luncheon will be held today at 1:00 p.m. We are honoring, not only student-athletes, but of course, Simon Fraser University and Mike Dinning, the athletics director, in the back of the room. I do hope you will all attend that luncheon. It's a wonderful gathering and quite an honor for our schools and our student-athletes.

Bill mentioned leadership and you've all heard me say it before, I'm not here as much to be a leader as I am to lend direction to this organization. I believe the leaders of this organization sit in this audience and are elsewhere across the country. As Greg did, I would like to recognize a few people before we get started. Your CACI chair, Larry Lady; chair of the CAA, Jonathon Seamon; and chair of the Faculty Athletic Reps, Ron Melton. I would like re-introduce Dr. Stearns, who is actually still the chair of the Gender Equity Committee; the chair of the NCC, David Stair; the new chair of the Regional Task Force, Kevin Snyder. Let's give all of these people a hand.

What amazes me about our councils and the ones that meet here, they start Wednesday and go three straight, hard days. They had their first joint meeting with the CACI Saturday morning for three hours. That was the first meeting of the CACI who's been meeting ever since and continues to add some meetings on. We've got a lot of people here working very hard for our interests. We have quite a few of you in today's audience. Those that it doesn't include should look to join councils and committees. We need more leadership and people who will carry us into the future. I encourage you to look for leadership opportunities.

Again, as far as direction, my main charge as I came on board, was to create a strategy, a plan of attack, a direction for our future. We're very close to finishing that plan and tying a new budget for next year to the plan. Actually, at the spring meeting of the COP, the council approved the strategy. They approved it in concept only because the plan has a pretty substantial reference to regional focus in many different aspects of it, whether it be structure or business plans, and they did not want to step ahead of the Regional Enhancement Task Force in approving a plan where the Task Force still had work to do to effect that plan. But, it has been approved in concept. We'll be finishing up that plan over the next two weeks in the national office.

You've probably heard me say in the past, that plan will be focusing in on better service to members, some revenue generation and cutting the cost of championships in some way, shape or form in order to attack our reimbursement issue. It will gain a lot more exposure through broadcast, print media, branding the organization and other ways we're looking at to get the NAIA name out there. That will result in higher image and prestige, which I think we're all looking for. It will certainly address the area of communication, both internally and externally, to the outside market place.

There's some exciting things happening in this organization and I want to update you on a few of them. I'm going to ask one individual to speak on one of these exciting things. The first one is, just recently, we signed a company by the name of Licensing Resource Group to represent the organization as a licensing agent. In that capacity, they will oversee the use of the NAIA logos and marks with our championships. They will also create a program for member-institutions. It will be a professionally operated licensing program to be utilized by your bookstores and the totality of the universities. This will allow us to further expose the marks of the association in our schools to gain further exposure, and of course, it will effect revenue on our campuses and within the NAIA. This company is proposing that they also do some sponsorship work for us and they certainly have the talent and experience of people on staff to do that. I will review with them over the next few weeks that proposal and make a decision as to whether or not they sell sponsorships for us both nationally and regionally and whether that's exclusive or non-exclusive.

We also have decided to hire a full time concessionaire for our championships. In the past, we have had our hosts or people brought together to run our concessionaire business for championships. The company is Spotlight Apparel. They are also a new licensee of the NAIA. They did a wonderful job at the spring games. On three weeks notice, they came in with an opportunity to prove what they could do. They have a 12-person staff in Connecticut and they brought eight executives and worked about 20 hours a day, working the booths, meeting at night to go over their sales, deciding what should be reprinted for the next day or redistributed. They sat there and sold the product and collected money. Most of our attendees and student-athletes were thrilled with the product. They'll be able to do a lot better job with longer preparation.

I'm very excited about that group. They're talented and very creative. The key to them as a licensee is that they are focused on providing service to small colleges. That equates to low, minimum orders and the right pricing and the right materials. They want to understand what your bookstore wants, what may need to be made available in your retail outlets around your cities and to your alumni.

Within the licensing area, a company by the name of Silverman Group will be retained by our licensing agent, LRG, to be available to create new logos for our schools. They've done that for three or four of our schools already, again, in a test situation. Those schools are thrilled with the results of the new logos and will help them better market their universities, better gain exposure and create new revenues.

We have some new sponsorships to go along with companies, such as Mutual of Omaha, who held that wonderful reception for us last night and National Car Rental, Rawlings and many others. One of them is a facility development company by the name of Partners and Associates of Knoxville, Tennessee. These people build buildings. They do it from start to finish. It's from A to Z. It's the financing, the planning, it's overseeing architecture, on-site management, etc. They're fantastic. They've worked with Georgetown College. They're starting a job with Union College and they're in conversations with three or four other schools already. What is neat about this is that, again, they're a fantastic company that will bring some wonderful things to our schools. Not to mention, we received substantial dollars from Partners when they sign on to do work for our schools. They pay us out of the money they are paid. It's out of their fee.

Another company is called Television Network. Most of you have heard of them. They have a product similar to the airport television service you see when you're sitting around waiting for your planes to go home. It is an 18- to 22-year-old campus-focused news and music-video service. It's a CNN company. They have been approaching as many schools as possible. It's been a little slower than we expected in terms of presenting their product to our schools, mainly because they're regional sales force was not fully built. It was supposed to be nine people. I believe they're up to seven. It will be up to nine in the next few months.

It's a great product. Basically, it's a television screen in your meal areas. It's controlled by a computer and server on campus and a satellite uplink. There is approximately 15 minutes of music, a lot of short news updates, sports updates, sports features and an opportunity for audio text that is inputted by the schools onto the screen. You can customize the output for your schools and communicate with your students. A lot of schools have signed up with CTN. At this point in time, it's about 60 schools. They have predicted there will be about 55 more to come on line in the next month, or so. Most of those schools will receive installation by September. Again, monies will come to any NAIA school that signs up. It will be into the six figures on an annual basis for 10 years. That's our prediction, given the numbers we are hearing. The product is free to our schools. It costs nothing. CTN will spend $15,000 to $25,000 to do the installation. They make their money through advertising sales on products.

Union Bank is a student-loan program. It's a bank that's asked us to put them on a preferred lender list. They're added to your list of five, six, seven or eight banks. That hasn't been as well received. It's been a little confusing to some of the people on campus who are reviewing that. We're in the process of making that a more understandable program. Again, we receive payment to the NAIA for applications made by potential students for a student loan. We're just asking that you put them on your list of preferred lenders.

We are undertaking more aggressive plans. I mentioned Licensing Resource Group and their interest in selling sponsorships for us. These plans for sponsorship will be far more aggressive than they have been in the past. It will be very targeted to companies that believe in our philosophy, perhaps have similar philosophies that we have and have concurrent consumer markets so that if we work with them, they will have a return on their investment with us and they will be happy. We'll do that both on a national and a regional level. We are also talking about working with our conferences in some way, shape or form to help them raise sponsorship dollars.

Communication has been an issue, as I mentioned earlier. One thing we want to attempt is to go paperless with our communication to our members. That would include coaches' manuals, policy books, the NAIA News, things of that nature. We spend a lot of money on paper out of the national office. With today's technology, I think it makes a lot of sense for us to use the Internet, use the web site, perhaps create even an Intranet amongst our members to communicate. That's not to say you would not have information on paper. You could certainly download what you wanted to, but it would be a system we can create with ease. You could go into your computers and call up information using key words within that coach's manuals. Pull down what you need quickly and easily. That's not to say that the national office won't be available to answer your questions. That is a service we'll continue to provide.

Along those lines, we're going to start measuring your phone calls, when you call, what the issue was and how quickly we responded to you. Legislative services, membership services, championships, whatever, we'll measure that. We'll report to you on what our annual goals were, did we achieve them and what our goals will be for the next year on responding to you.

This paperless idea is built around, not only internal communication, but also we have an opportunity to cybercast our championships. It's something a lot of people are starting to get into. I know the NCAA has, Major League Baseball has, amongst other sporting bodies. We should be doing the same. I've been talking with a company over the last few weeks about cybercast. That would include up-to-date information, basically, to the minute it's happening at our championships. We think it will also include audio, if not, video. I'm not just talking basketball. I'm talking about all of our championships. On campus, your students, you, parents, whoever, can tune in without being at an event and understand what's going on, follow the games and know what the progress of their students is.

Part of this would also be moving the daily update on the web page. We would try to keep it as up-to-the-minute as possible. Moving the NAIA News to the web site and, again, maybe making that a weekly so that information is more timely. There are a lot of things we can do with the news in communicating with you and I think this is the best way to do it. Making our web site a lot more dynamic so that it can be more user friendly and it can be a lot more attractive. We need to do this for our potential students and student-athletes.

Basically, we're going to continue to conduct a very well-run sports business and operate a high quality athletics association for you so that we can provide the services your require and need on a daily basis and provide for the exposures and the monies you need to participate in NAIA championships.

I'd like to move on the spring games update. We're going to be very brief about this. I saw a potential failure. I've been saying that for about a year. I have a lot of concerns about the concept period, about the ability of our hosts to operate the event to our liking. Somehow, some way, it all came together. It was a wonderful event. I have been converted. I believe in the event now. I'm not sure it's marketable, but we're working on it to find out to make it more so. To see all of these student-athletes, approximately 3,000 of them with their coaches and administrators, come together in one city and have a chance to see each other participate in athletics and championships and to get together one evening for a special time together. They listened to wonderful speeches and the entertainment and fireworks were just great. When we were in Tulsa, with a couple thousand of our student-athletes and coaches, the band started playing and everybody was up dancing in the aisles. We had baseball and softball teams in whole jumping and running across the field. It was great and we want to try to do it again. In talking to Palm Beach County, I suggested to them that we need to find more than one day during that week so we can bring our student-athletes together to enjoy each other's company and to share in their experience as long as we don't take away their focus on competitive opportunities.

It looks like our spring games will be a financial success. We partnered with the Tulsa Sports Commission. We will be splitting the net revenue. Palm Beach County will also have financial success. We're excited about what's happening down there. They have a very buttoned-up staff down there and they will get the job done with far less worries than we had in Tulsa.

We are discussing with the Sports Commission of Tulsa about our future there. I'm not talking about a national office, but as far as events are concerned. Things will end up in a positive manner. We have a lot to bring to the table and they realize that. We have a bright future in Tulsa. As far as the spring games and the Sports Commission and their staff, the Sports Commission's full-time active staff for events is two and a half people. That was supposed to grow, but it actually shrunk. They let go of their executive director in January and have not replaced him. They lost their number two person who handled a lot of things. She moved over to Oklahoma City. As you might expect, the burden of putting on the event fell on the NAIA staff. Come January, that staff is focused on one thing and that's the basketball tournament in Tulsa. Tim Kramer and everyone did a wonderful job putting on the event. Those who were there could attest to that.

The day that event ended, after the teams went home, our staff, instead of having a couple of days to take a breath and re-vitalize themselves for their normal duties, had to turn around and start working again as a team for the spring championships. They had to pick up all of the slack left by the Sports Commission. The Sports Commission does a lot of wonderful things and their staff did the best they could given their resources. But, it was our staff who put the spring games on with the help of a lot of volunteers and our coaches' associations, etc. I want to thank Tim. He's not here, but I want to thank Kevin, Natalie and Valerie who all worked 24 hours a day for a couple of months to make this a success. I think they deserve a round of applause. Their hard work hasn't ended because the spring games ended, they had to prepare for these meetings and under some hard situations. They continue to put in long hours and do a wonderful job, so I want to personally thank you also.

The last thing I'd like to talk about is regional enhancement. We could have done a better job communicating about the progress. That's not to say there was a lot of progress. The Task Force has worked very hard and many long hours. As of their last meeting in February, they hit a wall in trying to come up with some regional alignment that worked with the competitive structure. The good news is that Kevin Snyder got that group together, those that were here attending NACDA, a couple of nights ago. They met a couple of times as a staff and made some major breakthroughs. I think we're getting very close to having a proposal that will fit our needs and really pull all of these things we're talking about with better service to our members, operating as a sports business, creating new products in the market and pull it all together in a regional focus. This will make us a lot more successful.

I'd like to ask if Kevin would come up and lay out a little of their progress.

Kevin Snyder:

Good morning. The Task Force did meet two times as an entire body and once with the national office staff. I'd like to thank them for putting in some long hours and missing the final game of Michael Jordan, which I haven't stopped hearing for the last 36 hours. Some of those people were rooting for the Bulls and some for the Jazz.

The Task Force is six months old. For five of those months, we have worked through conceptual ideas about what we think the regional enhancement should look like and to present a recommendation to the Council of Presidents at the NAIA convention in October. As of three nights ago, those conceptual ideas, basically, have stopped by my direction. We are working now on a pilot study of those ideas. In other words, it's time to quit practicing and get in the game and get something going.

The conceptual ideas helped build the pilot study and the pilot study that we are going through right now will be conducted by Jonathon Seamon. Jonathon is going to chair a mock regional coordinating committee to work through some of the most difficult ideas, some of the most difficult problems that we solve with the regional enhancement. Along with Skip Lord and Mary Beth Kennedy and myself, we will be conducting conference calls over the next month in order to work through these problems. We believe if we can hit a home run with this mock study of a group of individual institutions and conferences, independents, Division I, Division II basketball, that if we can work through this well and prove the pilot study works, we believe we will have something very viable to present to the Council of Presidents in October.

We're also going to request the input of the sports associations and this will come at a time following the recommendation to the Council of Presidents in October. We want to get this study somewhere down the road before we ask for that involvement because we don't believe it would be fair to not give you, as coaches and officers of the coaches associations, some very definite parameters to work within. We think you will have a better chance of being successful in the questions we will be asking of you in order to place a national champion in each one of the sports.

At this time, I'd like to thank the Task Force, Skip Lord, Jonathan Seamon, Bob Boerigter, Kathy Yandell and others who were not able to be present at this meeting because they will be working very hard as they have over the last six months. I guarantee you, the next few months, they can kiss their summers goodbye. We will be ready in October and we will have one, two and perhaps three recommendations to the Council of Presidents. If you have any questions, I hope you will direct them to me. I will make them available to the Task Force as well as to the national staff. If you're taking notes, please call me at 218/727-8559. Thank you.

Steve Baker:

I want to close by saying we have a very bright future. You need to believe in that because we are a team and we have to work together. There are tons of opportunities, so let's stay together, believe in what we're trying to do and it will all work out.

Those of you who want to get more involved, please do so. We'd welcome any of your involvement and your expertise. Thank you for coming.