SBD/August 11, 2014/Colleges

Smaller Schools Voice Criticism Of Autonomy, With Revenue Sharing A Sticking Point

Hanlon believes governance changes move in the direction of greater spending
The NCAA D-I BOD last week voted to grant the Power Five conferences autonomy, but during deliberations, the supporters of the proposal "had to push back against a constituency that wanted to see more revenue sharing among schools, particularly the proceeds from football, the most lucrative sport," according to Steve Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. Rice President David Leebron, who voted for the proposal and was on the steering committee of eight presidents that conceived it, said that "sharing the wealth was a nonstarter." Leebron: “That’s not an issue the committee addressed or considered. It wasn’t in its mandate.” Eder reported a "major sticking point was how votes would be counted in a separate, newly established and powerful council that would promulgate policies for all of Division I, not just the Big 5." The council’s composition would "give significant additional weight to representatives of the Big 5." Delaware President Patrick Harker said, “We lost some influence in the council." He added that the council makeup "swayed his vote." Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon: "I voted no because I believe the proposed governance changes move in the direction of even greater spending and revenue growth in intercollegiate athletics and even greater disparity between the conferences" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/9). Arizona State VP/Athletics Ray Anderson said, "We're going to have to go out and essentially get revenue sources to support it. That's part of our challenge." Arizona AD Greg Byrne also said that the reforms could "result in future changes that could affect the athletic department's bottom line." In Phoenix, Ryman & Metcalfe noted UA has 20 sports, of which "two turn a profit: men's basketball and football." Byrne: "The money is going to have to come from somewhere. I hope we're able to make good, solid decisions that will still allow us to have all the opportunities we currently have" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/9). 

WHAT IT MEANS: Ball State AD Bill Scholl said he thought it was "fine" for the Power Five conferences to have "some autonomy." He said, "What’s going to happen is some legislation is going to get passed, and then Ball State and the MAC and the other four conferences in our group are going to need to make decisions as to how we’re going to respond. In some cases, that certainly could cost, if we decide we want to follow suit, it certainly could cost some more money" (Muncie STAR PRESS, 8/9). Southern Miss AD Bill McGillis said, "With this change, there's no question that the higher resource conferences will have a greater voice, but whatever proposals, whatever legislation is adopted going forward, is for all of us and not just those five conferences. That's been lost in some of the coverage.” Asked what the vote means for his school and Conference USA, McGillis said, "I don't think it's going to result, in the short term, in a dramatic change in how we do business or on the competitive landscape" (Biloxi SUN HERALD, 8/9). UMass AD John McCutcheon said that he "expects the department to be able to handle the potential added cost." In Massachusetts, Matt Vautour noted McCutcheon estimated that increasing the value of basketball scholarships for both genders would "cost a combined $30,000." It would be $75,000 "for football scholarships and another $75,000 for other student athletes receiving full rides." McCutcheon: "It’s not an overwhelming addition to our overall scholarship budget. We feel we can deal with it if that situation may arise" (DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE, 8/8). In Newark, Steve Politi noted Princeton AD Gary Walters "blasted the power conferences for 'disguising self-interest with self-serving propaganda' and for being 'more answerable to the TV networks than the NCAA.'" Meanwhile, at Rutgers, Olympic sports "are in jeopardy … again" (NJ.com, 8/9).

MAKING WHOLESALE CHANGES? In N.Y., Joe Nocera wrote under the header, "This Is Reform?" with the subhead "The NCAA's Feeble Reform Impulse." The new D-I plan will "give the players some help that they haven’t had before," but these changes "hardly constitute wholesale reform." The "also-ran schools may be forced to rethink athletics entirely" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/9).
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