SBD/September 11, 2012/Colleges

NCAA D-1 BOD Chair Talks College Athletics, Stipend Pay For Student-Athletes

Hatch was elected D-1 BOD Chair last month and his term is for two years
The leadership of NCAA Division I BOD Chair Nathan Hatch "arrives at a turbulent time for college sports," according to David Teel of the Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS. Hatch, who has served as Wake Forest Univ. President since '05, "was elected board chairman last month." His term "is two years." Hatch, during a Q&A with Teel, said, "I think overall in the last 20 years, college athletics is much more consistent in quality, much more focused on the well-being of student-athletes, has much more financial integrity." He added, "I think in some ways we do have problems. But I think by and large they are ferreted out and changes are made." Below is an excerpt of the Q&A.

Q: So you don't believe college athletics has lost its way?
Hatch: I’m pretty optimistic. I do think the competitive pressures always loom and will push people to win at all costs. But that’s the kind of discipline that institutions have to show. I (do) wish there was minor-league football. To some extent, I also wish players who didn’t want to go to college could go straight to the NBA. The NCAA would like that, but that’s something set by the NBA, largely influenced by the players association. I think if there’s a problem it’s that anyone who wants to play football seriously has to go to college (for three years). So in some cases I think you’re forcing people to go to college who don’t have necessarily the interest, disposition, and in some cases, probably ability. That’s an ongoing challenge.

Q: A year ago, adding a $2,000 cost-of-attendance stipend to scholarships appeared to be all but done. Now the NCAA has tapped the breaks. What happened?
Hatch: It’s a complicated issue. ... There is not an equal playing field in all of Division I. Athletic budgets range from $10 million to $150 million. The assumption was when that was discussed and passed (preliminarily) was that conference by conference people would sort themselves out, and schools of lesser resource would choose not to (participate), that this was something that would not be forced but would be allowed. But in the competitive nature of things ... schools felt like if that became the new edge of competition, then they would have to follow suit. And that’s where I think it’s fair to say big divisions came between better resourced and lower resourced institutions. Even at a place like Wake Forest, I think the additional $2,000 would cost us half-a-million dollars a year. ... And I think the latest discussion is, if it would pass, it would have some kind of means testing. It might not go to everyone. ... On our campus I would say we're sort of where the NCAA is on this. We're betwixt and between. There's not universal support for this (Hampton Road DAILY PRESS, 9/5).

SHARE THE WEALTH: SPORTING NEWS' Mike DeCourcy wrote under the header, "NCAA Out-Of-Bounds In Perhaps Moving Final Fours Out Of Domes." If NCAA Exec VP/Championships & Alliances Mark Lewis "really wants to make the game better for the players, the NCAA could use some of the Final Four ticket revenue from those 70,000-seat stadiums to help fun the $2,000 stipends that once were promised to Division I athletes, then rescinded, or to bring the family members of Final Four participants to the event" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/7).
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