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June 15 Convention Coverage

June 15, 2011

CEFMA Keynote Address: Khalil Johnson, president, Common Sense Consulting

Khalil Johnson, President of Common Sense Consulting kicked off the Keynote sessions for the week as he presented to the CEFMA membership on keeping things simple. “There are a lot of ways to get to the same place; we’re going to try to take the simpler route. Common sense isn’t always so common,” stated Johnson in his opening remarks.

Johnson discussed how even the simplest tasks can get complicated and that the easiest solution is not always at the top of mind. Specifically in leadership positions, sometimes stepping back and letting others learn is the best way to handle complications. “The real solution might be outside of our comfort zone. Our ability to simplify, to build consensus, to be willing to step forward if we need to, to let the process run its course, that’s when we have the ability to best influence what is going on in our environment. Leadership doesn’t happen at the front of the room at the podium, leadership happens in small groups. The more we understand those processes, the more we bring common sense solutions, the better off our organizations will be,” said Johnson.

Johnson also reflected on his time working in the Georgia Dome, specifically mentioning his reaction to a tornado that catastrophically affected the structure and how he worked with his team to overcome obstacles out of their control. He also discussed a “blue shirt, white shirt” model, to focus on the bigger picture. There will always be big issues-- big money issues, customer satisfaction issues or significant strategic issues, that need to be focused on, rather than insignificant problems like whether to wear a blue shirt or a white shirt, and again, letting the smaller things run their course.

Finally, Johnson gave some sound advice on how to make it to the top in your selected career path: Volunteer. He reflected on his first job in a funeral home. “There will always be the jobs that no one wants to do,” said Johnson. Volunteering and taking advantage of those opportunities paid off for Johnson as it became second nature to him throughout his life, ultimately leading him to the Georgia Dome as he was willing to learn football operations in order to run a football stadium. Ultimately, the world changes every day and Johnson concluded his address reminding his audience to pay attention, question everything and remain teachable: “Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, the best and brightest don’t always win the prize, but we just continue on one day at a time.”

NAAC Keynote Address: Julie Roe Lach, vice president of enforcement, NCAA

Julie Roe Lach, vice president of enforcement at the NCAA hosted NAAC’s Keynote session this afternoon touching on topics related to integrity in intercollegiate athletics, as it relates to athletics compliance. Lach opened with a definition of integrity, as said by her college basketball coach: “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching and with the belief that no one will find out.”

Integrity is a hot topic in collegiate compliance, but this could be seen in both a positive and negative way, according to Lach. Compliance officers have to deal with new violations and more complex threats in the intercollegiate athletics realm, but at the same time this leaves room for an opportunity of change within the industry.

Challenges in integrity exist within our 24-hour media world where big money is a now a staple in intercollegiate athletics. These added threats allow for a real momentum for change, a change that can start with athletics compliance. “What you don’t hear enough is your daily grind does make a significant contribution to upholding the rules and what you do every day does uphold integrity,” said Lach. Lach discussed on the threats that come with upholding integrity, namely do the risks outweigh the rewards? Is the NCAA focusing on the right issues and are the penalties strong enough? NCAA President Mark Emmert has brought this topic up to the NCAA Board and there will likely be more action in terms of taking a comprehensive look at the penalty structure in the near future.

Reflecting on her experience with the NCAA, Lach discussed the NCAA’s core purpose as governing competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manor, while integrating intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount. There are four direct values that are the common denominator of the NCAA’s purpose, according to Lach: student athlete success, the collegiate model, amateurism as a student model and competitive equity.

Stay tuned for more NACDA & Affiliates Convention coverage throughout the week.