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35th NACDA Convention
Orlando, Florida
June 11-14, 2000

Junior/Community Colleges Breakout Session
Current Trends and Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics
Monday, June 12, 10:00-11:00 a.m.


Warren Hansen


Our first speaker this morning will be David Berst. We had the pleasure of listening to him at NACDA events before. David is the Division I Chief of Staff, in charge of managing the affairs of Division I schools. Of course, we're interested in the legislation that he's going to be dealing with. He's the NCAA assistant executive director for enforcement and eligibility. He's been with the NCAA for 28 years so, he has a wealth of information and background and history about what has been happening at the NCAA level.

Before taking his position with the NCAA, he was a baseball and basketball coach for four years at Murray College. We're delighted to have him with us here today.

Joanne Fortunato is from the California Commission on Athletics. She is currently the commissioner there. She has been our commissioner since August 1995. We have 107 community colleges in California, so she, indeed, has a large job. She's been a very busy lady in those five years. Some of the things that have happened in the California community college level that have been big issues and those are the restructuring. This was very time consuming and some very emotional issues, as you might imagine. We've also changed our recruiting rules recently and we've gotten into sponsorships since Joanne's arrival.

She has an extensive background, as do all of our panelists. She has a BS and MS in health and physical education and has two doctorates.

From the National Junior College Athletics Association, I've had the pleasure of meeting Karen Sykes this morning. Karen received her doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts, specializing in physical education and teacher education. She is presently at Dean College. She was first employed there in 1976. She is serving as a professor in sports, fitness and leisure activities, where she has been performing in academic and skill-related courses. She has advised students. She has been on many committees. Since 1996, she has been the assistant athletics director. In addition to that, she has been coach of softball for 20 years, field hockey for five years and basketball for three years.

Many of you know her much better than I do and you know her as the president of the NJCAA where she is finishing the first of a three-year term. Karen started with the NJCAA in 1983 and has been on the executive committee since serving as a secretary/treasurer for seven years, vice president for nine years and now president.

With that, I'm going to turn it over to David to kickoff this panel.

David Berst

I'll hit on a couple of things very briefly. We'll have different presentations because we all come at this from different perspectives. I left a couple of handouts in the back of the room for you. They relate to legislation of rules and policies that impact some of your student-athletes and their annual publication. This isn't the only place you can pick one of those up, but I've left some for you.

Last year, I talked to you and part of the discussion was the lack of communication between the NCAA and the two-year college community. That is true. We have a new governance structure in the NCAA and we have a lot of things to overcome. A lot of this is communication and making sure we have all of the information necessary to make decisions before the end of the process. There are a lot of half steps and partial errors that take place in the interim. I have some confidence that we can do a good job with the new governance structure, but it is a little strange even to us. It's representative and it doesn't include everybody in the decision making, but it provides opportunity for communication before the people that make their decisions, especially in Division I. Divisions II and III are very similar to the way we've operated in the past, but it demands some additional attention as to how you can have some impact within the NCAA.

One of the things Ced Dempsey has been interested in is meeting with representatives of the two-year college community in order to identify issues and find ways then to address those issues within our own system. The inaugural meeting of that group just took place. There were six governance representatives, two in each division. I represent Division I. Jan Brown, who is one of the people in Division II, is our conduit who will be used as the person who will develop information and disseminate information to the governance individuals at the NCAA to help us identify issues and who to communicate with. Divisions II and III people have a legislative calendar that is different than ours, so they are going to need to talk to someone in September. In Division I, we'll talk to someone who know what the issues are in May and in November. We have a legislative cycle that can altar policies and rules twice a year. It's a complicated procedure that requires us to find the people to put input into those decisions.

The one you may have heard something about that's been on our plate in Division I for two years is basketball issues. Generally speaking, I don't know if there have been that many changes within the structures that impact you in ways that you haven't been familiar with in the past. The Division I basketball issues may, because there is a movement to redesign what's been our summer evaluation period that we've had in July in the past. This has focused all of the recruiting on the third parties involved in representing players or have close relationships with the outstanding players during the summer. We're trying to figure out how to put more emphasis on individuals that are associated with prospects that are somehow accountable to an educational institution. How can we move the emphasis back into the academic year; that can create a couple of problems. You have a dead period that could be impacted in September. If we actually do away with summer recruiting, what do we do? We increase opportunities during the academic year and what kind of impact will that have?

We have about a year to figure out the answers to those questions. We know we don't want to continue the way we are right now. We're going to change the recruiting calendar. In the process of doing that, we will have a committee called the Basketball Issues Committee that will sort this out and make recommendations to our two bodies that will adopt legislation in April 2001 and October 2001 for implementation in the summer of 2002.

Along the way, we'll be in contact with some of your representatives because we're going to have to understand the issues related to the two-year college community as well as other groups that can be impacted to figure out how to design a calendar that can take those issues into consideration.

That's probably the highlights.

Joanne Fortunato

I'm speaking about current trends that we're going to need in California. I've had an opportunity to visit with Vin Cullen two weeks ago and he seemed to be doing all kinds of different things.

First of all, we are told by 2010, we will have two million students in our colleges. That will be almost 500,000 additional students from this year in our colleges. We will have 10 new colleges by 2010. Our colleges range anywhere from a minimum of 900 students to 76,000 students. Our average in our colleges across the state is about 25,000 students in each of our colleges.

We are going to see an increase in the age population of 18 to 25 years. Right now, that population number if higher. We have more nontraditional students from 25 to any age above, but we are moving back down to what is considered a college-age student because there aren't enough spaces in our four-year colleges for them. We're having a lot of nontraditional students.

There are many new cultures coming into our state and we will have an increase of the ratio of women. This year alone, we've had an increase of about four percent across the board. That's a very large number.

The increase gives us new opportunities for women's sports. We are adding women's sports. We've added two in the last three years and we hope to continue to do that and help our colleges be in compliance. We're getting a lot of interest in new sports or extreme sports. Also, we've had inquiries about physically challenged sports, wheelchair tennis. We haven't moved on them yet, but that's happening. There is greater interest in sports that reflect a culture.

We are having difficulty in finding women's coaches. Unfortunately, even though it's been a good economy for the last few years, it seems to be a trend in our colleges to hire part-time coaches. It's been a big problem for us in that we're having difficulty finding women who have a full-time job somewhere and then can coach part-time. We are having trouble finding men who can do that, as well, but it seems to affect the women's coaches more and more. We're not doing a good job of recruiting women's coaches. We're also having difficulty in finding women to fill out our rosters because the four-year colleges have to have more and more women in their programs for compliance. They're taking our top women.

We're finding that our colleges are becoming more and more entrepreneurial. They are becoming more important to the businesses and industries in our communities. Our colleges are being used to train these students who come in. Many of our colleges have an agreement with local businesses to train their employees. At the same time, it generates money for our colleges.

As the welfare jobs concept becomes more and more evident, we are having more students coming into the colleges to move to the job concept and that involves the federal or state partnership in order to be able to move these people into the jobs.

We are using different attitudes in our cultures. Our colleges are stating that students are our clients not inmates. We're doing a lot more in marketing and promotion and, as environments change, we're becoming a user-friendly kind of environment. Students are getting a lot more attention, if you will.

In athletics, we're having an issue with trying to figure out who our participants are. We do not give any substantiation in any way and yet we're finding, on our rosters, many students from out of the country. It's always the question of how are they being able to afford coming in living so far away from home. Most of our colleges do not have dorms. They are primarily mirror colleges. We're having trouble tracking the records of these students because it's very difficult to go to some of these countries for transcripts. Our transcripts are very different. You don't know if they've been in professional sports or not unless someone can find something.

There was a great hiring period in the 1970s. We're going to see that again. This is a good time to get employment in the California system. There are many openings. It's a time we are looking to hire quality faculty. Again, the trend is to employ part-time coaches and those two things don't go together. We would like to see more full-time coaches. For some reason, even though there's a lot more money in colleges, it's not filtering down to the athletics program. That's at the bottom of the list. In order to make the money go, they're hiring part-time coaches; otherwise, you have to hire a full-time teacher/coach.

If you would like any of these notes, they will be on the web site. We'll have all of the information there.

Karen Sykes

I've taken a different slant on this and focused more primarily on the issues that are confronting us as an organization, rather than an individual college. Many of the individual issues are the same as Joanne is facing, although in different ways and structures.

This will be a review of the NJCAA annual meeting. I'm going to focus on some of the things that we've identified in a strategic planning way that we are trying to address in the NJCAA right now because they have been issues that have been recurrent or are coming up because of the actions we've taken recently.

Our biggest challenges right now swirl around the rapid movement into divisional play. We've moved into divisional play in many of our sports in both our men's and women's division. This move has brought with it a myriad of problems that we're just now beginning to feel. Some of these have to do with how this move has impacted some of our tournament structures in ways we didn't anticipate. It was a well thought out move in some ways, and other ways probably not as well thought of as it should have been. It's also impacted regional play and individual institutions when it comes to travel and some of the things that are involved with district and then national play. So, this has become a big issue for us.

Very closely related to that movement has also been the problems we've had in identifying quality tournament sites. I truly appreciate the concerns some of you have already addressed to me relative to wanting quality experiences at national tournaments for our student-athletes. When you move into three divisions in each of the men's and women's sports, you move from needing two national tournament sites to needing six national tournament sites in each sport. That brings with it many problems because there are not necessarily a lot of people out there clamoring and opening their arms to welcome us to their area because of the work involved and sometimes they lack the facilities to present a quality program.

That has often put us in the position of begging. We have gone begging asking people to take a few of the tournaments that are not as lucrative in many instances and involve the work but don't involve the profit. This is going to be an ongoing issue, when you move to needing that many sites, when you move to needing that many experiences for student-athletes.

We're exploring different commercial areas now. Some of you know the Disney Complex has indicated an interest. In the past, they weren't really willing to work with some of the things needed for some of our tournaments, but have now indicated that would be a possibility. There are lots of areas we are exploring, because of the needs that have been created by divisional play.

Closely aligned with that also, is the need for us to explore the possibility of having two sets of eligibility rules for Division III schools. Those constituencies, those institutions involved, have different needs and see a different set of purposes for their programs. In many instances, the similar set of eligibility rules which were created essentially in the beginning for Division I basketball and have been modified in many instances because our Division I sports don't necessarily satisfy the needs of many of our Division III institutions. We're looking very closely at the possibility of creating a separate set of eligibility rules for those institutions. We'll have to see what happens there.

When we move to divisional play, our earnest good intentions were not necessarily matched by the foresight to anticipate some of these programs. Now, the problems we're coming up against are really ones we're addressing now and, quite frequently, they are problems that crop up as we go along. As we move more and more into this arena, I'm certain we're going to identify more of them.

Another area, which I think probably everyone in athletics is dealing with, has to do with finances. How do we maximize our income without overburdening our institutions and our members? This is a problem everybody shares. We've put a cap on our membership dues for several years now. You have to keep up with inflation in a lot of areas and sometimes that's been quite difficult to do. In most of our operations, we have focused on a year-to-year budget. This year, we're looking at a five- and 10-year projection to see what we're going to do to meet the needs we anticipate in the future.

In addition to that, we're also looking at ways to increase income. One of the ways we're doing that is the creation of a foundation. Most of our budget has gone into operating expenses. Quite honestly, we haven't been able to supplement and do a lot of things that we'd like to do for student-athletes to enrich their experiences and to offer them additional things. The creation of a foundation would allow us to generate enough income to supplement some of our programming, offer scholarships, offer some support to our all-star team, which have traveled internationally. That's another area we're looking into.

Another issue that faces us and has increased dramatically in the last five years is some of the legal issues that go along with presenting programs. We find ourselves in court quite often now and we find ourselves threatened with court. That was not so much a problem. Involvement in sports and in any area has triggered so many legal issues that we are able to take care of by good faith. Now, we're confronted with lawyers and issues we didn't have to face before.

This has also added another layer to our legislative process, which means our lawyer has to review everything we do before any of our proposals are instituted and has gone through our constitution and bylaws. Quite honestly, it has given us some things that need to be addressed. We've taken care of some and we're working on others. It has also impacted a lot of legal costs and affected our day-to-day expenses. This has forced us to look at ways to increase our revenue. Our legal costs have escalated out of proportion to everything else in our budgets.

Another area which probably everyone is concerned about, but which we are trying to do something about, is sportsmanship. If you look at the papers, most of what you read is not necessarily positive. We are all becoming more and more concerned about what's going on in sports in the area of sportsmanship. We've tried to do two things to address some of that and to improve our image and the image of sports in general. One of them is collaboration of organizations involved in sports including the NCAA and some of the professional organizations. We're looking at ways of increasing educational programs around sportsmanship and to promote it at all levels. We've been quite active in that committee and that is on going.

We've signed on with the Arizona Accord, which is promoting sportsmanship and sportsmanship education. It was not done in the hopes of just promoting lip service for sportsmanship. It was done with the efforts of adopting the philosophy behind that and then promoting those educational efforts in our member-institutions. In the fall, our members will be getting, along with their membership forms, some information about the Arizona Accord. It will appear in our handbook and we'll be doing more programming surrounding those sportsmanship issues in an effort to try to elevate some of the levels. We want to get some positive focus on some of our participation on what's happening.

Another area which some of you may be aware of is to change our name from the National Junior College Athletics Association to something that more closely reflects the community college philosophy. Many of the college presidents believe the name junior triggers in people a negative feeling. There is something second tier about the word junior. I had a call from one college president who said he didn't like each year, when he listened to March Madness, the reference the commentators always made to JUCO transfers. He felt that was somehow negative. So, I have received many letters from college presidents indicating that they would like to see the name community college reflected in our title.

Along with that, you have two issues that you have to address. One of those is, is that a positive change? Yes, it would show the community college that makes up most of our membership in a positive light. What do you do about name recognition? Some folks say we have none anyhow, so it wouldn't make any difference. There are others that say if you change your name at this stage, the only recognition you have is closely tied to the National Junior College Athletics Association and JUCO and if you change your name, you're going to initiate a free-fall into anonymity. What do you want to do about that? We're studying what the impact of that will be and we're actually going to do a little bit more with trying to find how widespread this need is for change.

When I came here, I was going to deal solely with this, but I realized there was another underwriting problem we need to focus on. My purpose was to learn and to share. I learned quite quickly that if athletes are to grow and thrive in today's society, everyone involved is going to have to be working in a concerted effort to move forward. One of the issues we need to address now in the NJCAA, is how to build better bridges. We need to build bridges between all of the constituencies that are involved.

One of the first things we'll have to do in building those bridges is just to open a dialogue which I found out doesn't exist. I believe that it can be done. As someone mentioned here, we've already started to do that in some ways, again, re-establishing connections with the NCAA, with the California colleges and with the northwest organization. We also need to focus a little bit of that energy on establishing better bridges with NATYCAA. I believe we're all interested in working on the same things. We all want to provide quality experiences with integrity for student-athletes. The best way for us to do that is to have us all moving in the same direction in sort of a combined collaborative effort, rather than in our individual entities moving forward. We all have similar ideas, maybe slightly different purposes. Ours is more legislative and yours, educational and dialoguing. Together, combining those purposes for the athletes is the best thing we can work toward.

I intend to focus a lot of energies in the next two years in building those bridges and establishing ways that we can look into collaborative efforts toward establishing a better environment for students and for athletes.

Warren Hansen

We certainly have a potpourri of information out there coming from all different slants.