||36th NACDA Convention|
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 10-13, 2001
Junior/Community Colleges Breakout
Current Issues/Trends Affecting Two-Year College Athletics
Tuesday, June 12, 9:00 - 10:15 a.m.
Good morning. I'm Lori Mallory and I am the outgoing president of NATYCAA. I'm pleased to recognize Southwest Recreational Industries who is our audio-visual sponsor this morning. Our session this morning is entitled Current Issues and Trends Affecting Two-Year College Athletics. We're very fortunate to have three of the top people in our governing bodies today. We've had this panel before, it's very well received and there was much demand getting them back.
The first person speaking today will be Joanne Fortunato. Joanne is the commissioner of the California Community College Commission on Athletics. She served as the commissioner since July 1995. Previous to that time, she served 12 years at Keene State College in New Hampshire. During her years at Keene State, she was elected by her fellow athletics directors as the commissioner of the New England Collegiate Conference. She was a founding member of the NCAA Division II Commissioners Association. She spent 16 years at the high school and college levels.
Her academic career includes a Ph.D. in administration from the University of Southern California and a second Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Northwestern University. Welcome.
I feel a little uncomfortable after listening to Tommy Lasorda. I feel motivated, but I don't know what to do. I'm disappointed USC lost yesterday to Miami in the College World Series, so that doesn't make me feel motivated. I'm also very proud to be Italian. I never start a speech with a joke. I can't remember them and I always think I'm going to say the wrong thing to a group. But, here is this man speaking Italians over and over again to how many people that were out there today? They didn't seem to be hurt by it, so would somebody write those jokes down so I can remember them?
You can follow with me with a handout I've given you. Last year, I talked to NATYCAA about the same subject, so some of this may sound like you've heard it before and that's correct. Last year, it was mostly my ideas. This year, I asked our athletics directors to send me what they felt were trends in our community colleges this year to make sure I got a real touch for what is out there. Unfortunately, they come at the end and most of them are problems rather than trends. Let's quickly go through this. I'd like to give you a little of the demographics of California so you know where we're coming from. Right now, we have 1.5 million students in our schools. Our schools, as you know, range anywhere from 900 to 120,000 students. They say that one out of every four Californians has been to a community college, which is nice. We have great respect for the community colleges in California. By 2010, we're expecting two million students. By 2010, we will have built 10 new colleges. We have an increase in the 18 to 25 population and also in non-traditional students and a greater number of immigrants.
The ratio in our schools has increased for women. It's interesting that it's increased for women, but as you look at the next little box at the bottom, the problem areas with all of these new opportunities and new sports is that we're having difficulties in finding women coaches or women who will coach. We are also, in some areas, having difficulty finding women to fill out our competitive teams. We're not quite sure what that is or why it is. Maybe it's just in specific areas, but we need to do something to find out why that is so. I have a feeling about women coaches in that since physical education is not a requirement in our schools anymore, a lot of our colleges are not teaching or not having major programs. In major physical education programs is where you learn the methods of coaching, officiating and that's not happening anymore, so we have fewer and fewer people coming out trained.
As with the NCAA, we are having difficulties in determining amateurism and how our foreign students fit into our programs. We have a rule that we do not give any form of subsidization to any athlete unless it is through the regular financial aid program. We have no scholarships, we have no grants so we're having difficulties with learning very much about foreign athletes and whether they're being subsidized to come to our schools. We're having difficulty tracking their records because many of the countries don't keep track of them. We don't know if they're professional players or not. We're having difficulties with tracking these students and making sure they are amateurs. Of course, once the NCAA determines what their amateur status is going to be, then perhaps we may have to look at some of our rules and change them as well.
I'm sure all of us are being inundated with Internet services wanting our schools and students to sign up on Internet programs to profile themselves. We have another rule that we cannot recruit outside of our recruiting area. Each community college can only recruit within their recruiting area. We can't advertise on the Internet. We can't advertise in the newspapers or brochures out of the recruiting areas. So, the Internet agents, if you will, are really presenting a problem for us.
Early in the 1970s, there was a great hiring period and this was a time when there was a lot of money. Quality faculty were hired and they were given release time as coaches. Most of our coaches are also faculty. When faculty choose not to coach any longer, it is very difficult to replace them with full-time positions. We are finding one of our biggest difficulties is having a lot of part-time coaches. When you have a lot of part-time coaches, usually they have a full-time job somewhere else. They come in just to practice or come to competition. Many times, they are not clear of the rules. They are not doing the things they should be doing. They don't have the time to work with decorum and it's presenting a lot of problems for our athletics directors.
Also, with our times of not having a great deal of funds, it seems like the funds from the state are not going to physical education. We're at the bottom of the list. I guess that's not something I have to tell you. Many of our colleges need to fund raise just to have a program. A lot of our colleges don't fund the program as part of the program. There's a lot more pressure for marketing and development and there aren't that many people qualified to do the kind of job or, do they have the time, and that is a problem. Again, I'm talking about, when I look at staff, a lack of full-time staff.
One of the things our athletics directors wrote over and over again to me was the quality of officials. I don't think that's a new trend, but I do think it might be getting worse. Again, I don't know if we have the same kind of training or do we have the grassroots levels to train officials. Do we have associations that do a good job of evaluating and re-classifying officials? It's become hazardous to our sports. When you look at what I say about students on the last page, not only are their attitudes and behaviors changing and becoming much more disrespectful and there's a lack of athletic discipline, the lack of quality officials does not add to that. We are finding students who are coming ill prepared, don't have the background, don't have those qualities that we always think athletics builds in students. It just doesn't do it, it has to be taught, and it has to be expected. We're not getting that in the students coming to school at this time. There's an increased demand for support services meaning academic counselors or tutoring and all of the things that would help our students get better or need the backing to do better, but we don't have the increased funding to cover that.
Two of the last things I wanted to talk about is one, the season. I'm sure the NCAA has had this problem and we're hoping they develop something that is a remarkable model. That's for out of season competition so that we can use it, but it seems we have a defined period of when a season is. Then, our rule is you cannot compete as a team out of season. You can compete as an individual, but you can't use college resources, you can't use equipment or, if you use the facility, it has to be rented. We seem to have real difficulties in controlling that because our teams are going year round. It creates a liability problem for us. Financial resources are being used and, of course, our facilities are being used. We need you to work real hard on that and find a good model for out of season competition that isn't costly. We can't afford to cover sports year round.
The last thing I want to bring up is the calendar. I'm sure it's happening in your schools as well. We are finding new models in how to schedule classes. In California, the state gives back money to the colleges according to how many FTEs they can generate. The colleges are going crazy and adding more courses, more intercessions, more sessions. In fact, we're going into almost a year-round calendar with maybe four distinct semesters, not counting late starting classes or condensed classes or computer classes. There is not one model, there are all kinds of models. This is going to present a lot of problems for us in eligibility and how to determine when one season begins and when a student is eligible. What are the 24 units they bring forward, when can we determine what that is and what is a 12-unit semester? Is it what they start at the beginning? Is it what they pick up? That is a trend we need to look at. I'm going to leave you with that.
Thanks Joanne, I'm sure you've raised some good questions. The second person to speak is David Berst. I've lived in Kansas City about 11 years and David's name is synonymous with the NCAA. He is the chief of staff for Division I. He's been at the NCAA 29 years, can you imagine? Twenty-five years as the head of enforcement, so he's seen it all. He now manages the affairs of Division I and works with the Board of Directors and commissioners of the 31 Division I conferences. We're pleased to welcome David Berst.
Thank you. It's fascinating to me that regardless of the level or the number of dollars or whatever the issues, they seem to be the same. We struggle with the very same things. There are a couple of things I want to hit on for sure and then answer some questions. One, I wasn't even thinking about coming in here was the basketball recruiting calendar for the NCAA and Division I. Some of you have probably heard about the study of the basketball environment and summer basketball, in particular, that the NCAA became concerned about on the elite level. Where the next franchise is identified at about 11 or 12 years old, there are a number of unseeingly influences that get involved in the lives of those players at that point and that carries over to the recruitment to Division I schools subsequently. A year ago, our Board of Directors determined that in 2002, we would no longer permit our coaches to be involved in watching evaluation camps in the summer and they were going to take us out of summer recruiting altogether.
The caveat to that was that they would consider reinstating some summer recruitment if the NCAA could also show that there would be some kind of an effort to help change the environment. Where we are right now is in the throws of trying to come up with appropriate recommendations to get that job accomplished, which will give us back something of an evaluation period in the summer in 2002. In 2001, we have one, but it is just a reduced to a seven-day period in July with a little time out in the middle to have a little bit of a cooling off or a down time. In the future, if we're going to use that July period for evaluation, we have to also begin some new programs that we hope will help influence some young lives in an earlier stage. We're talking about things like a mentoring program that will involve people from various communities that will get involved in the lives of young athletes when they're 12 years old. We want to see if we can help guide them in a direction that isn't related to how fast you can figure out you can get to the professional ranks and help them get there.
We're going to consider legislation in that regard in October with what we call our Division I Management Council. You'll probably hear about it more then and in January when we have discussions about it at our convention. In Division I, that will not be a time when final legislation is determined. We have to act on it twice, on the part of the Management Council and that will happen in October and the following April. In April 2002, we, hopefully, will have a system in place that will work from that point on for the summer and will help, to some degree, reinstate the emphasis on the educational institutions that should be involved in the recruitment of basketball players.
We also have initiatives under way related to amateurism. I think those do directly impact you. In fact, Division II has already adopted the changes in amateurism definitions. That is not very well known at this point. It probably won't be unless some Division I athlete somehow decides that they can't go to Stanford because of our amateurism rule and instead picks a Division II school. All of sudden, Division I will make a move in that direction. Right now, on the Division I level, we have considerable controversy about what amateurism rules ought to look like.
In looking at that issue, amateurism is whatever way you define it. There isn't anything sacred. I'd like to destroy the myth about what amateurism was in the beginning. It's wasn't the Greek idea. It was simply a way, in my mind, to insure that no one could participate unless you could afford it. Conceptually, it doesn't really hang together, if you go back and look at what our schools did when they were trying to figure out how to design rules to control student-athletes.
We're trying to look at it from the point of view of what's best for the student-athlete. Too often, we get involved with what is best for the institution, not what's best for the student-athlete. We're trying to look at it from a competitive equity standpoint. That doesn't mean school to school, it means student-athlete to student-athlete. For example, if you are permitted to play on a professional team, there comes a point where you really do have an advantage over competitors who went straight to college and participated on the Division I level. We're trying to figure out where that line might be.
As well, you need a commitment to education, at least while you're participating in NCAA programs. That's one where we're a little bit vulnerable, because although our administrators are trying to hold on to the concept of while you're at our school, you have to be committed to education and you may or may not be able to get the benefits that come your way regarding financial aid and professional activities. We don't apply that same standard if they are at a junior college or if they are at a high school or a prep school. We have come under some fire, particularly from the high school community on that subject. If we're dedicated to some limitations while they are in college, why aren't we dedicated to the same limitations when they're in high school? Right now, we're considering a number of amendments to our amateurism rules that would accommodate those kinds of concerns.
The tops of the wave view of our amateurism is that we would permit, while not in an NCAA Division I institution, a prospect to sign a contract to receive compensation for playing for a professional team. The control for us was what we call the organized competition rule. If you decide to go off and do that for a year, you are forfeiting a year of eligibility at a Division I school for each year you participate in that way. Not only that, when you eventually enroll at a Division I school, you have to sit a full year before you can begin your period of eligibility. There are significant limitations on the time that you can participate on the Division I level, but it does permit those individuals who think they are pro prospects to go ahead and make that move.
As soon as we made a decision to move in that direction, the basketball community was outraged because basketball coaches make the point that those same influences I was talking about when someone is 12 are the very people that are going to try to take advantage of this opportunity to try and move people out of the educational system as early as possible. There have been amendments submitted to take basketball out of this scenario because of the uniqueness of that sport and take a two-year period to study the impacts on basketball. We should collect data to see if we need to continue to do something different for basketball than we do for other sports. Frankly, I think it does work better with some of the individual sports, track, tennis and golf, from our perspective. Football doesn't seem to have the same problems, at least at this point.
The high school community has also influenced our people to take the view through an amendment that while they are enrolled in high school, they cannot participate in their sport in professional competition until they get out of high school. Once they get out of high school, give them a year window to participate in such competition before making the decision whether they are going to enroll in the post high school level either at a junior college or at an NCAA school. When they do that, after one year, they can do that without penalty other than using up a season of competition. If they don't make that choice after one year, they forfeit all opportunities for eligibility in NCAA schools. It's another way of attempting to apply that legislation in a way that may be more palatable to a high school community. There seems to be some interest in moving in that direction.
You may have read a couple of years ago about prospects that received education expenses from a prep school. They were declared ineligible because they got money from the wrong person. It could have been an agent, a shoe manufacturer or a booster. Any of those kinds of people would render the individual ineligible. There was so much made of the fact that a prospect should be able to receive educational expenses. It's really limited to that without concern over the source of those monies that there was a proposal to permit it. There has since been an amendment because, again, I think primarily the high school community was very concerned that their programs would be robbed of the best talent to move into schools that will provide these benefits. Even a school company that decides to set up its own prep school league, to go to the extreme, there's an amendment that would permit these kinds of educational expenses only after high school in a prep school before coming to the NCAA. Although that may be more palatable to a high school community, there are some issues with whether we can really carve out those sorts of distinctions along the way and sustain some sort of a legal challenge of that. At least I know there are a number of us who have that concern and if we're going to move into the direction of educational expenses, we have to do it across the board or not do it at all.
On the most positive side, we just approved Operation Gold, which means that those international competitions that are designated by USOC as Operation Gold events would permit individuals to receive prize money and continue to be eligible without any concern. That would apply to a gold medal winner in swimming at the Olympics who might have received $20,000 or $50,000 for winning a gold medal. There are some of those competitions that will take place this summer designated by the USOC with other national governing bodies and if that kind of thing is a concern to your community, you could have some student-athletes turn out to be ineligible, but are eligible at the NCAA.
Also, on the enrolled student-athlete side, we have fee for lesson legislation that has been adopted by the Management Council. It's now before the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is hesitant about acting on anything beyond Operation Gold until they understand it completely. Those of you who dealt directly with CEOs, presidents and chancellors, have some notion how long it takes for them to understand entirely what it is you're talking about. We've got a couple of educational sessions coming up for them in those regards.
We also have concerns expressed by the USGA because, as it turns out, golf has a more stringent rule than the NCAA now. A golfer cannot receive a fee for lesson and has to turn themselves in and declare themselves a professional and would not be eligible for the Walker Cup or other amateur events in golf. Some of us think that may not be a terrible dilemma because golfers are pretty well educated about their own rules and can apply them adequately to themselves if they understand the NCAA events from the USGA's perspective. It really doesn't change the nature of our competition, we don't think.
We also have a legislation that would permit the NCAA to pay the expenses for catastrophic insurance for our elite athletes. There are about 150 of them in the two rounds of five sports that are selected by professional teams. That is men and women's basketball, football, ice hockey and baseball. That would be about 150 athletes and premiums for that kind of insurance we're talking about is almost $10,000 per person. You can see that's a big chunk of money. It's intended to help encourage those individuals who are in that category to continue with their education if they desire to do so. In addition, it permits those individuals to qualify for a loan of up to $20,000 total toward whatever expenses they think are appropriate to spend the dollars on the basis of their future possible professional earnings. In other words, to get a loan based on the fact they are going to be a pro player. We would probably use a centralized bank to do that and try to control that to some degree. Again, it's intended to try to find a way to encourage people to continue in school. On the other hand, if they don't want to, that's not something we want to keep them from doing. Occasionally, you'll see David Stern chastising us for not doing something to keep our own players to accomplish that.
Foreign students have become a factor on all of this. That's part of the reason we began looking at our amateurism legislation in the first place. Frankly, the foreign students are subsidized in a different way and they don't have an educational system to help. The Internet is one way we can follow the foreign athletes as well as the national governing bodies here. They know who is coming into the United States, so we are able to chart that to some degree. That is a concern. From one perspective, one concern is you've got too many foreign athletes in our programs and that's a terrible thing. On the other hand, they are young people trying to be educated and they qualify to be in our institutions. Yes, they train with everyone else and they also make our teams better. What's wrong with encouraging that?
As you can see, Division I in the NCAA has many of the same issues. We spend about $700,000 a year in Division I trying to educate officials and insure that they are calling the games the same way. Every year, officials probably catch more flack than I used to as the head of enforcement in the NCAA and that will continue until the end of time.
I think I'll stop here. I think those are a few things you need to be aware of and they can impact you. Watch the news in the fall to see where we're going.
David, we all know that everything you do impacts us. I know there will be questions on how you're going to solve all of our problems. The last gentleman to speak is someone I grew up with and had the pleasure of working with him at the NJCAA. Wayne has a bachelor's degree from Kansas State and an MBA from Regis University. He coached and taught high school for four years and has been at the National Junior College Athletic Association since 1985. That, in itself, is a feat. He serves as the associate executive director and has served on many national boards representing you for the NJCAA.
Thank you Lori. It's a pleasure to be here. David, I have to start with I can't feel sorry for you with your officiating problems because in California and in the NJCAA, once an official is any good, you now have him. We lose all of our good ones to you. We're trying to train new ones constantly, so hopefully, we'll continue to send you a few good ones.
When I saw the title, I thought how appropriate it was. Our organization, as all collegiate athletics organizations, is in a transition period right now. The president of the NJCAA, Dr. Karen Sykes, has appointed a committee to study the various issues of trends and future issues of concern within the NJCAA. That committee meets for the first time next week in Colorado Springs. We have one of the committee members here today, but I would hate to put him on the spot, so Art, I won't say who that person is. All of the issues we're looking at, again, issues and trends within the NJCAA, and try to develop a strategic plan for our organization into the future for the next 10 years and beyond.
Among those issues to be studied would be the current and future name of the organization, as you are well aware, we went through this last year. We proposed a name change and it was not accepted by the board of directors. That will be reviewed again by the organization to look at our name, our mission statement and where we're going. Divisional structure and play, as you know, we have three divisions in some sports in our organization. A full scholarship and a non-scholarship division are being looked at. We're looking at numbers in those scholarship issues. We're looking at foreign student-athlete issues. Opportunities and a continuing to expand opportunities for women and women's athletics programs are being looked at. We are looking at amateurism and out-of-season competition. If we can solve any of those problems, I will be very delighted with the efforts of this committee. Hopefully, we can address all of them next week and through this summer in Colorado Springs.
Status quo issues within the NJCAA. We have continued to maintain, what is very difficult for junior/community college student-athletes, the level of academic eligibility. It goes term by term. We try to address a different method of calculating eligibility for Division III programs. The Division III programs, by and large, across our country did not want to do that. They wanted to stay with term by term eligibility requiring a student-athlete to pass 12 hours in every term to be eligible for the upcoming one whether they had participated previously or not. This is what we've been under since 1989. We're staying with that even within our Division III programs. I have mixed emotions on that for those folks. I am somewhat proud of them drawing a line in the sand and saying this is what we want to do. I'm concerned for the numbers within their programs. The attempt there was to help them maintain programs and maintain numbers and, hopefully, they'll be able to do that. I'll address that issue later.
We continue to work with the NCAA on issues of concern to both, such as recruiting dates, eligibility, hardship issues, transfers and amateurism issues. Just like Dr. Fortunato, I'm hoping that between the three organizations, we can address the amateurism issue. I don't think we'll ever solve it. It's too big a pill for us to swallow. It's too expensive, too detailed and there's not enough knowledge of a foreign student-athlete. When I do compliance seminars around the country, I tell people the most difficult challenge you have in eligibility is foreign student-athletes and transfers.
Many years ago, one little bright guy in the back raised his hand and asked, "How do you solve those?" I answered, "Don't have them." They all just looked at me. One guy in the front said, "That would do it, wouldn't it?" With the foreign student-athlete, how can you determine their amateur status with us? You really can't. I don't know about Mr. Berst, but my travels to foreign countries on behalf of the NJCAA leads me to believe that if they are over 18 years old, none of them meet our amateurism status regulations. Because of the structure they have, I'm convinced and my boss is convinced, that they do not qualify as amateurs under our current legislation and, hopefully, we're going in a direction that can address those issues.
The declining number of programs and student-athletes is a future concern of the NJCAA. When I say declining number of programs, we're not really going backwards in membership. The number we have, somewhere about 500 member colleges, will stay fairly stable for many years. My concern is where programs used to have eight sports, they now have five. Where they used to have five, they now have two. Where they used to have 15 student-athletes in women's basketball, they now have nine. Those are very serious concerns within the organization.
I also think we need to develop what I call career community college administrators and coaches. Let me explain that. I consider the group in this room to be career community college people. I consider us up here to be career community college people, David excluded. I personally am proud of that. The fact is the pride of being a community college person across the country has declined. I've talked to a lot of people that are either coaches or administrators in the NJCAA or in a community college and their goal in life is to get to the university level. That's fine, but I think there comes a certain point of time when you're using the system. Those people using the system, by and large, are the ones that don't have the high standard and high level of ethics and high level of concern for the student-athletes, the community from which they live. My concern is those of you in the room that have made a career of community college athletics are in the minority and, excuse me for saying this, but we're getting old.
When I came into this organization in 1985, I think we went 10 years before we had a retirement from the Men's Division Board of Directors and we've had 12 or 14 within the last five years. It's hard to find those career volunteers because we operate off of that. It's hard to find those people out there. We need to find a system of developing career community college people again and get away from hiring part-timers. I think a part-time golf coach is one thing, but a part-time athletics director is very difficult. Whatever we can do to avoid that, we need to try to do.
Some of our colleges have become very successful with hiring and developing a full-time person in student recruitment. That has worked very well for some of our colleges. A full-time person to recruit students, whether they are athletes, musicians, drama students, academic students, a full-time person on the road will help our numbers in our program. That is very important. I think it's important that we all blow our own horn, promote our program and talk about the number of students in your program and the retention in your program. The GPA of your teams would be helped, as well as the graduation rate of your teams and the publicity your program brings to your college and campus. If those are things you're not doing, they are things you should develop. There are some very good systems in place on campuses and I know some of those people are sitting in this room right here. This year's team academic awards that are coming into our office now are just overwhelming us. It's great to see the number of nominees we have this year. In the past, sometimes we did not have enough to fill out the programs. This year, we're bringing them in by the bag load and that is very refreshing to see that we have that many programs that are stressing the academics of their teams and student-athletes.
The non-scholarship programs can take advantage of promoting what they're doing because they are not spending money scholarshipwise in bringing in these students and, again, with the retention rate and the numbers. We have to demand a high level of behavior from our student-athletes and from our coaches and to promote an image and not to have an excuse to drop a program. I just came from our Division II baseball tournament in Tennessee last week and we had two colleges that epitomize exactly what I'm talking about. One got beat out in two games, bam, bam. They didn't have a flight home until Wednesday and they were done on Sunday. This is a very dangerous situation. When I went to check this team out on Wednesday, the hotel manager said not to look at their rooms. They are the nicest people I ever had stay in this hotel. They are the nicest group I've ever had, the nicest group of young men I've ever had. I told him I have to check their rooms. He said to do what I want, but you don't need to go there. I hope the coach whose kids behaved so well becomes a full timer, because he's not on the campus right now.
I don't get the opportunity to write letters very often about good things like that. I wrote the president from the school where these kids behaved so well saying that, if you can, hire this guy and give him a full-time job on your campus, because these are the kinds of people we need to have.
We need to continue programs of education relative to substance abuse, including tobacco. It's become a very important issue with our youth today and in our country. If we can be leaders in that area even though we're athletics people, if we can lead in that area, we certainly need to.
We all must continue to justify our jobs every day, including myself. I have no problem with that. We need to be proud of what we're doing. We need to be proud that we are community college people. We need to become proponents of community college education and athletics and must look at the big picture and work together. NACDA does that very well. One of the things I think is neat about this is that this may be the only place and the only time, at either NACDA or NATYCAA, where I can get on a panel with Dr. Fortunato and an NCAA representative and we're all looking for the same thing. We're all trying to achieve the same goal, we're all trying to solve the same problems. That's the kind of forum we need to continue. If we can help each other, we need to do that. We need to have less me and more us. We need to look at what we're doing in the NJCAA with this committee. We have to look at getting rid of what's best for me and look at what's best for the survival of community college athletics. Hopefully, that's what we'll do. We'll continue to work together and share ideas. We need to be innovators athletically.
When I first came into this organization, one thing that was great about the community colleges is that they became the innovators academically. Community colleges were the first ones to move into areas of outreach programs, branch campuses, Internet courses and four-year courses being taken on two-year campuses. We need to do the same thing athletically. The answers are out there. I'm sorry I don't have all of the answers, but I'm willing to work with anyone to find the answers and keep community college athletics alive. The NJCAA will continue to work with outside organizations and individuals such as the NCAA and Mr. Berst to provide our student-athletes and promote them at the highest level possible.
I thank you, again, for allowing me to speak to you today.
Thank you. I think we'd be remise if we didn't mention that Karen Sykes did mention us in her Keynote Address. I think that was huge. Those of you who were there heard a lot of supportive comments. They are supportive and it's time we let go. We let go and grow. Let what's nurtured take place. Wayne, we will continue to work and to request that. It never hurts to keep pushing. We need to keep in mind the big picture. As we all know, growth is painful sometimes. As we mentioned in our Executive Committee Meeting, we are on the verge of doing some really neat things.
If you have any questions, the panel will be up here to answer them. I'm going to have to shut things off since there are other sessions people need to attend. As a group, we need to adjourn this session. Thank you and we appreciate your coming.