At the beginning of every new year, I get too many calls from my favorite media folks asking for “predictions” for the coming year. While I don’t have “predictions”, I do have a list of things that NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision athletic directors should be worrying about. So I’m sharing the list I keep by my telephone…
“We should pay NCAA college football and basketball players because it is totally unfair that their coaches get millions in compensation while athlete compensation is capped at the value of a full athletic scholarship!” This statement summarizes media and public sentiments currently in vogue. If Division I men’s basketball and football programs move in that direction, they will also have to leave their "motherships" (their non-profit educational institutions) because they can’t afford the Title IX obligation of having to equally compensate female athletes.
The time for action on intercollegiate athletics reform is upon us and it will take lots of folks, each doing one very small thing to make change happen. Few people maintain that the NCAA is capable of reforming itself because its Division I Football Bowl Subdivision members hold voting control over the organization. Even the so-called Big Five conferences, who successfully sought legislative autonomy and received it in 2015, can exercise their power to get the NCAA to do whatever it wishes.
This week, the NCAA announced it will pay $3,000 to the parents of 125 players so they can attend the College Football Playoff finals and $3,000 to parents of the four teams of 15 men and four teams of 15 women who make it to their respective NCAA Division I Final Four – plus an extra $1,000 to the parents of the two teams each that make it to their respective championship finals. This is a huge departure from the normal NCAA policy that treats all male and female athletes going to NCAA championships in the same manner - no expenses for parents.
There have been a number of calls for Congressional intervention to achieve intercollegiate athletics reform. In an August 15, 2014 ‘op ed’ in the Chronicle of Higher Education, former Congressperson and NBA star Tom McMillen called for a Presidential Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Reform. Representative Jim Moran (VA) actually filed such a bill (HR 5743) during the December 2014 “lame duck” session of Congress calling for establishment of a commission to identify and examine issues of national concern related to the conduct of intercollegiate athletics
Recent events at Rutgers have made it clear that the management of Division I athletics programs is a high risk environment that can diminish the reputation of the larger university. College presidents and athletic directors must learn from these occurrences, insist on model policies and procedures, and commit to regular oversight. But more important, every college president and members of boards of trustees must address the larger and more important question: What am I doing to advance the reform of intercollegiate athletics to reduce these excesses of power and money?
The Sandusky/Penn State protection of a pedophile and the Rice/Rutgers coach abuse of athletes cases appear to be different in kind. However, a closer examination should reveal that the American sport culture not only accepts but often celebrates values and behaviors that are often predicates to unlawful behavior.
The "writing on the wall" is clear; athletics departments need to do a much better job addressing issues of coach and staff misconduct, not only because these staff members work with minors in summer camps and clinics, but because the world around us has changed regarding public tolerance of what might formerly been characterized as “tough” coach behavior.
The exposure of sexual violence and scandal at Penn State University has pushed many university officials to review their sexual harassment prevention policies. Historically, it was the Second Wave feminist movements of the 1970s that raised awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace and pushed for legislation and legal recourse. Feminist theory also helps explain some of the perplexing events at Penn State University.
From the Financial Reports issued by the NCAA it is clear that the athletic budgets of men’s basketball and football at many institutions in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) are increasing at an alarming rate. For example, the 2006 budget showed a 14% increase for men’s sports over the 2005 budget, while the budget for women’s sports indicated only a 6% increase. Men's football and basketball now consume 78% of men's athletics operating budgets.
There appears to be a growing tendency for athletic directors to allocate identical budgets to like sports e.g. men’s and women’s tennis teams or golf teams etc. At first blush, this may seem to be an admirable practice because when an institution does not offer football, this approach may result in full compliance with Title IX in the treatment of student-athletes.
When done right, annual budgeting is a time consuming process that significantly impacts the strategic direction of the athletics department. A well conceived budget serves as a dynamic planning tool that matches resources with objectives and priorities. It also provides a basis for controlling department activities and measures the efficient or inefficient use of department funds. As a consultant, I have noticed three common practices that have compromised the benefits that can be derived from efficient budgeting procedures.
Across the United States, school districts face dwindling state aid, increased costs, and layoffs. Voters are deciding on hard-times budgets and school administrators are making do with fewer resources. As the recession and slow economic recovery play out in American schools and communities, a new wave of gender inequalities has emerged. One sociological tenet contends that in times of economic hardship social inequalities tend to grow more marked rather than diminish.
At some institutions, sports have been officially tiered i.e. supported and treated in significantly different fashions. When this occurs, it is important to realize that to select an equal number of men’s and women’s sports to be in the top tier will NOT be in compliance with Title IX if one of these sports is football. For example:
Men’s Sports #S-As Women’s Sports #S-As
Football 104 Volleyball 14
In the late 1990s, many colleges and universities implemented a practice that became known as “roster management.” In order to avoid cutting men’s teams, the schools cut the number of male participants who would be allowed on existing teams to minimum levels. Often, football and men’s basketball did not have these roster limits imposed. By placing maximum squad size limits on men’s teams and subsequently reducing the number of male athletes, institutions simultaneously increased the percentage (but not number) of female athletes in their programs.
Adages that evoke the pain principle in sport include “No pain, no gain,” “Push yourself to the limit,”“Sacrifice your body,” “Suck it up,” “Perform in spite of pain,” or “Work through the pain.” Toughness is considered a prerequisite for success in sport and young athletes are often encouraged to “pay the price for victory.” Major league baseball manager Sparky Anderson reportedly explained to a player, “Pain don’t hurt.” In western culture sport has long been equated to masculinity (McKay, Messner & Sabo, 2000). The denial of pain in sport was seen as a masculine attribute, an earmark of toughness and masculine adequacy.
On Friday, 12th June the intercollegiate athletic world lost one of the most respected athletic directors and human beings in the nation. Bob Frederick died after suffering a tragic bicycling accident on the previous day. There will be many tributes to Bob from across the country for he was an excellent athletics director, a leader in many key positions in the NCAA & a wonderful teacher. But we at Sports Management Resources (SMR) wish to honor him, not for his accomplishments, which were many, but for the values by which he lived.
It seems like everyone that saw, heard or read about Jim Calhoun’s response to the reporter who asked him about the magnitude of his salary given the economic climate had an opinion about it. Some agreed or disagreed with the tenor of Coach Calhoun’s response but the interesting part was that many people provided alternative answers.
The most recent Racial and Gender Report Card (February 18, 2009) released by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport shows intercollegiate athletics slipping backwards from previous reports in the hiring practices of African-Americans and women in leadership positions.
“This report documents not only a lack of overall progress in college sport but a decline in both racial and gender hiring practices in key positions,” said Richard Lapchick, director of the institute located at the University of Central Florida.
A few months ago, I read a wonderful press release featuring an administrative assistant at a BCS school who was being inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. She had worked for several different athletics directors during decades of service and was highly revered by those around her. I was particularly interested in this story for two reasons.
Are you confused about NCAA’s various statements about CBS Sports.com’s college football fantasy game? Join the crowd of people concerned about the future of intercollegiate athletics.
The hot days of late July turning to even hotter August days signals the beginning of another academic sports year with the start of fall sport practices. In most regions of the country the high temperatures are accompanied by high humidity which means the risk of heat related injuries and death in all of the outdoor fall sports, but especially in football with its heavy pads and equipment complicating matters. Athletics directors at all levels need to continually assess the risks of every phase of their programs and have a comprehensive risk management program in place. Heat related accidents are but one of a multitude of issues that need to covered in the plan.
As professionals in the educational sport environment, we witness the value of the athletics experience every day. Utilizing sport to develop student-athletes as capable, resilient and self-confident people is something we engage in on a daily basis. However, sometimes we forget that constituents outside of our domain may not have the opportunity or the inclination to view and/or understand the personal development that takes place in an educational sports environment; especially if they have never participated in sports activities.
Few athletics programs are currently fully in compliance with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that are recipients of federal funds. What is the most sensible approach to achieving compliance without breaking the bank and how should a school handle gender equity complaints when it knows it is not yet in compliance?
My initial involvement with Division I Men’s Basketball began 50 years ago this coming fall when I enrolled at the University of Kansas as a hopeful walk-on student-athlete. I had been recruited to attend the Air Force Academy by then Assistant Coach Dean Smith (yes, that Dean Smith), and decided to be a cadet after I received an appointment to the Academy.
It’s time for athletics programs to invest in closer relationships with the faculty, especially with regard to the offering of academic support programs and recommendations for special admissions. Every athletics director must rethink the issue of ideal faculty relationships. The academic success of student-athletes is at stake.
In my March 31 post, Education is Forever,” I stated that significant academic achievement by members of an intercollegiate athletics team would not occur unless the coach made it a high priority and talked with team members on a daily basis about its importance. Regardless of what anyone else in the athletics department may say about it or the availability of a strong academic support program, if the coach doesn’t set the tone, academic accomplishment is unlikely to happen.
Frequently coaches lament that they don’t have any true leaders on their teams anymore. It is important for athletics directors to address this issue and give coaches guidance on how to address this challenge.
Here are several thoughts about the possible unintended consequences of the NCAA’s Division I Academic Performance Program. History shows that it is impossible to legislate moral integrity. Make a rule and there are always unanticipated impacts, those who will figure a way around it or live by walking on its gray and hazy edges. As academic progress rate (APR) and graduation success rate (GSR) pressures increase, we may very well see an increase in unintended consequences on student-athletes and academic support staffs.
In recent years athletics fundraising totals among the intercollegiate athletics programs of the six major Division I conferences have soared to record levels according to a recent survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education (October 5, 2007). It reported that these institutions raised in excess of $1.2 billion in 2006-7 for operations and scholarships and between 2002 and 2007 they had raised more than $3.9 billion dollars for capital expenditures alone. Six institutions indicated they had between 14 and 20 full-time athletics fundraisers on their respective staffs (20,19,18,16,15,14).
The vast majority of colleges and universities have limited or, in the case of Division III, no access to athletics scholarships. However, many institutions have implemented a system of special talent slots, often called ‘tips’, that allow coaches to recruit academically under prepared athletes who normally would not be admitted to their schools. Athletics administrators should heed the possibilities for abuse invited by this practice.
Few factors are more important to the quality of the athletics experience and the retention of athletes than the provision of quality coaches who have sufficient contact time with their teams. Yet, at many institutions, it is common to observe schools assigning more full-time coaches to male teams or aggressively going into the marketplace to hire the very best coaches away from other institutions at whatever salary is required for men’s sports, and relying on submitted paper applications and less competitive salaries for coaches of women’s teams. Therefore, it’s important for athletics administrators to understand what Title IX requires.
Faced with recent multi-million dollar court judgments and the potential of increased Title IX litigation, gender equity has become a more compelling issue for many institutions. But it’s easy to ‘miss the forest for the trees’. Value leadership is not about doing something because of being afraid of what might happen if you don’t. Rather, value leadership is about doing something because it is the right thing to do.
On March 21, 2008 as the First and Second Round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament was getting underway, Dr. Bobby Fong, President of Butler University in Indianapolis, wrote an essay entitled, “Academics and Athletics,” that was published on the Op-Ed page of the Indianapolis Star. He spoke about graduation as an issue of trust. Dr. Fong stated that the basketball team’s success in recent years had given the university the opportunity to showcase their message on a national stage.
It has become increasingly important that athletics directors provide opportunities for coaches and staff to become better educated about the characteristics of this Millennial Generation. Who are these college students born between 1980 and 2000 and do they present different challenges for coaches and administrators?
On January 14, 2008, Melissa Jennings won a $385,000 settlement from the University of North Carolina, paid for by the Athletics Department, ending a sexual harassment claim against her soccer coach. On January 25, 2008, Lauren Summa, a football team manager, filed a sexual harassment suit against Hofstra University, claiming football player taunts, being locked in bathroom on the bus and being replaced after filing a complaint with the University. On February 13, 2008, Fresno State University basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein won a multi-million dollar jury award with part of her clai
In a March 10, 2008 Sports Business Journal article, “No One Laughs At Vandy Now”, Michael Smith examined the state of Vanderbilt University athletics five years after then President Gordon Gee did the unheard of – eliminated the position of athletics director. Was there another option?
Shortly after retiring in 1987 as the NCAA’s first executive director, Walter Byers was asked whether it was recruiting scandals, academic fraud, agents or what he thought would be the greatest threat to the future of the NCAA. Byers responded simply, “I believe gambling poses the greatest threat to the NCAA.”
All organizations must have direction and focus. The overall mission and the goals of the organization must be articulated in a way that creates a philosophical and practical foundation from which to work. Athletics departments are complex organizations even in the smallest of institutions.
This past fall, three significant Title IX retaliation cases were lost by California State University at Fresno (CSUF) resulting in payments of $15.9 million to the plaintiffs. Lindy Vivas, former volleyball coach at CSUF received a jury award for $5.8 million, Stacy Johnson-Klein received a $6.6 million settlement and Diane Milutinovich received $3.5 million. And it is not over. New allegations of discrimination have been leveled at the Fresno State athletics department by an administrative assistant, Iris Levesque, and, in addition, softball coach Margie Wright is attempting to resolve
A good working definition of “politics” is “the ability to influence another person’s thinking or actions”. The athletics director must be a master of politics – getting others to support the funding and other needs of the athletics department. Developing political acumen should start with a self-assessment. Ann Richards, the now deceased former Governor of Texas, once said, “You can say anything to anyone as long as you dress like a lady and smile.” This statement was not sexist. It was her way of saying that dressing professionally and having a positive and smiling demeanor influence
"In an age that has stamped itself as the era of ‘go-getter, he was a ‘go-giver,’ giving himself, spending himself like water, not for himself, but for others.”
--Notre Dame President Charles O’Donnell in his Eulogy of Notre Dame Football Coach Knute Rockne
The media shapes the public's perceptions of the accomplishments of women playing sports and whether women in general can be strong, confident and highly skilled. The media also shapes the dreams and aspirations of girls. Boys grow up watching television, bombarded by heroic and confident images of themselves playing sports and being revered for their accomplishments. They know they are expected to play sports and are encouraged to do so by everyone around them. Girls do not receive these messages.
Politics is the art of influencing others to believe or act in a certain way. Every athletics director and CEO 'politics' daily to get the resources needed for the success of the sport program, from financial resources to facilities. Here's my top ten list for success in politicking:
The successful manager can never be too humble or too cordial and there is no such thing as saying 'thank you' too many times. No matter how powerful your position, avoid using power. Seek to accomplish your resource acquisition or service goals by being more knowledgeable, better prepared and more thankful and respectful than the person you are approaching for resources or services.