SBD/November 1, 2013/Colleges

Purdue AD Morgan Burke Discusses Future Of NCAA Division I Athletics

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Burke is in favor of allowing schools to offer student-athletes a $2,000 stipend
Two of the most influential ADs in the country -- Purdue’s Morgan Burke and Missouri’s Mike Alden -- went before the NCAA this week to stump for a greater role in the association’s governance. NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Division I BOD heard them say that ADs should be part of the board, which currently is populated solely by presidents, because ADs are on the front lines of college sports. Burke, the president of the D-I ADs' Association, and Alden, president of NACDA, urged for a simpler and more flexible structure that will keep D-I intact as it is with 351 schools, while also enabling the higher-revenue schools to adopt new rules, such as a $2,000 stipend for scholarship athletes. Burke, back on his campus at Purdue Thursday morning, talked about the NCAA’s future with SportsBusiness Journal. Here are some of Burke’s thoughts:

On the climate for change:
"There’s a willingness to implement change. ... I like what we’ve done in the first six months. Dr. Emmert and the presidents have reached out and they’ve publicly said things need to change from the governance that was put into place in the 1990s. The times are right for change, and the devil will be in the details. But I’m optimistic."

On the merits of the scholarship:
"Not every kid leaves campus with a ring or a championship, but they’ve all prepared for that pursuit. That discipline from athletics, coupled with a world-class education, make them the ones who will make a difference in our companies, create jobs, be entrepreneurs, and they’re the ones who won’t quit when things get tough. Anybody who is bashing the amount of the merit-based scholarship aid going to these young people are missing the boat on the thousands doing great things and, instead, focusing on the handful that have gone wayward."

On implementing a $2,000 stipend
:
"There are some issues that create concerns, particularly to those schools with resources to help grant-in-aids meet the demands of the 21st century. ... The (stipend) was the laundry money of the 1960s, so in that regard we’re not being trailblazers. We’re re-instituting something that was taken out in the 1970s. Media agreements have provided additional resources and we recognize that the scholarship doesn’t meet the full cost of attendance. ... When you have issues like Johnny Manziel and the players’ likeness, (critics) point at the bigger schools and their resources. And when solutions are proposed, we can’t get it done because of the way the current system is structured."

On where will the money for the stipend will come from
:
"I don’t think we’re there. We’ve got 351 athletic directors who came forward and said that we don’t believe in a separate division. But we do recognize there are a unique set of pressures facing these schools. This is important: We support a shared governance in general, and yet recognize the need for autonomy on some issues with regard to a limited number of conferences. ... You could potentially have in the future some permissive legislation in certain areas and if people want to opt in, they can, and if they don’t want to opt in, they don’t have to. That’s a major change from the way we’ve operated."

On distributing NCAA revenue:
"It’s important to note that none of the (higher revenue) schools are trying to disrupt the current revenue distribution plan. That’s important for all 351 schools in Division I. ... So, access to championships and the continuation of the revenue distribution plan are important elements for everybody, particularly the smaller schools in Division I, and at the same time those schools recognize the need for autonomy on some issues is a major breakthrough. ... This is the first time in my 20 years I’ve heard all of us singing the same song. Now we’ve got to stay on key."

On a need-based approach to assisting athletes:
"Each university, right now, has a student-athlete opportunity fund. How far would that fund have to be stretched in order for people to have an (allowance)? ... And if you’re Pell Grant-eligible, maybe they don’t receive the additional money for incidental expenses. That’s just me speaking. But there are ways to do this. ... I don’t think anybody has ever done the math on a need-based approach where those from the lowest socioeconomic background with the highest need have already received their incidental expense money from the Pell Grant. Some people might disagree with that, but that’s a logical approach. The problem is that we have a governance structure that doesn’t even allow that discussion right now. ... A simpler structure is part of what needs to evolve from this."
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