NCAA News Archive - 2001

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Football study group eyes I-A requirements

Jun 4, 2001 8:24:47 AM

The NCAA News

The group charged with enhancing the status of college football began in earnest to pursue measures for maintaining the health of the game at its May 25 meeting in Indianapolis.

The NCAA Football Study Oversight Committee, composed primarily of college presidents, reviewed membership models that would redefine requirements for football programs to compete at the Division I-A level and the NCAA's role in postseason certification. It also addressed financial concerns in what is arguably intercollegiate athletics' most lucrative -- and expensive -- sport.

The presidential committee was created in January to oversee a comprehensive review of football after Division I governance groups had advocated the study to protect and enhance the overall health and image of the sport. The committee targeted various areas of study and appointed groups to scrutinize those areas at its first meeting in February, then received reports at the May meeting. The group also received feedback from the Division I Football Issues Committee, which had reviewed the same issues at its May 10-11 meeting.

One of the most significant reports came from the Division I Management Council's Membership and Governance Subcommittees, which had been charged with reviewing the current classification hierarchy in Division I. The two subcommittees recommended -- and the Football Study Oversight Committee agreed -- that the existing subdivision structure be retained. The recommendation also included tightened requirements to compete at the Division I-A level in football, but the Oversight Committee was not ready to commit to those modifications without obtaining further information. Thus, the group charged the subcommittees to further research the following areas (initial subcommittee recommendations in parentheses) and determine their impact on the existing structure:

Establishing annual minimums on the number of grants-in-aid (80) funded for football student-athletes.

Requiring institutions to grant a minimum number of scholarships for all sports (200) or spend a specified total dollar amount on scholarships across all sports.

Requiring institutions to average a minimum number of regular-season home games (five) against Division I-A opponents.

Requiring institutions to average a minimum average attendance level (15,000) for the five home games.

Requiring institutions to sponsor a minimum number of overall sports (16), as well as minimums for men's sports (six) and women's sports (eight).

The Oversight Committee also requested that the Management Council's Membership and Governance Subcommittees explore recommendations concerning revenue generated by Division I-A programs as a criterion for Division I-A membership. The committee also asked for proposals that would enhance participation at the Division I-AA level.

The classification model was among several the Management Council subcommittees reviewed before settling on what was submitted to the Oversight Committee. Other alternatives included (1) deleting subdivision titles and letting the market drive scheduling, (2) creating a new "all-sports" division within the NCAA, (3) eliminating classifications within Division I and II football to allow formation of alliances among schools and conferences with similar missions, (4) adding a third subdivision for Division I football (Division I-AAA) and a fourth subdivision for Division I (Division I-AAAA nonfootball), or (5) maintaining the status quo.

"Now that we have agreed to keep the existing subdivision structure in place, we can focus more on what modifications should be made to the criteria for membership in Division I-A," said Charles Wethington, president at the University of Kentucky and chair of the Football Study Oversight Committee. "Our goal is to provide stability in Division I-A but also to redefine criteria to assure that institutions that are participating at the Division I-A level make the commitment to provide the programs necessary for a high quality of competition."

Classification concerns developed when Proposal No. 2000-36, which would have required Division I-A members to average more than 17,000 in actual paid attendance over four years, was submitted last spring. That proposal was tabled, but it played a role in prompting Division I governance groups to call for a comprehensive study of football. Other concerns that prompted the review of classification issues included the growing migration of Division I-AA programs to the Division I-A level and the increased financial pressure on Division I-A institutions to operate their football programs.

Financial, postseason concerns

The Oversight Committee reviewed many of those financial concerns, including a look at data compiled from the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act regarding revenues and expenses for Division I football programs. The data were divided by subdivision, as well as by quartiles within each subdivision, in order to gain a better understanding of the current financial status of Division I football and to allow for effective cost-savings recommendations to be developed.

Some of the findings in the research included:

Division I-A football revenues range from $411,000 to $32 million.

Division I-A football expenses range from $1.6 million to $16 million.

Division I-A football profits/losses range from $22 million to -$3.8 million.

Division I-AA football revenues range from $13,000 to $3.1 million.

Division I-AA football expenses range from $230,000 to $2.8 million.

On average, revenues in the bottom quartile of Division I-A are similar to revenues in the top quartile of Division I-AA; however, expenses are much higher in the bottom quartile of Division I-A.

Quartiles 1 and 2 in Division
I-A are expanding in revenues and expenses much faster than quartiles 3 and 4.

While the Oversight Committee's review of the data did not produce any immediate proposals, the group did charge the Football Issues Committee to explore cost-savings recommendations in the areas of postseason expenses, recruiting expenses, summer school expenses, staffing and capital improvements.

In addition, the Oversight Committee reviewed a report from the Championships/Competition Cabinet's Football Certification Subcommittee regarding the NCAA's role in certifying bowl games, but took no specific action other than to recommend that the subcommittee further review whether a proposed "open market" system to determine the number of bowl games would be appropriate.

Other issues

The Oversight Committee also addressed recommendations in the following areas of study:

Student-athlete welfare. A number of NCAA groups are involved in reviewing proposed legislation pertaining to student-athlete welfare, including legislative proposals that address academic and health benefits, safety, graduation rates/continuing eligibility, voluntary workouts and conditioning, transfer regulations, sportsmanship and gambling. Many are part of the Bylaw 16 deregulation package dealing with student-athlete benefits. The Oversight Committee reviewed those proposals, but took no position.

Diversity. The NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee (MOIC) has developed a strategic plan that involves a phase and a recommendation phase. The Oversight Committee approved that data be compiled on the number of minority football student-athletes, the number of minority football officials, and the movement of minority coaches from college football to the professional ranks and vice versa. The committee also approved the use of focus groups to conduct this research.

In addition, the Oversight Committee endorsed that college and university presidents be surveyed on the state of college football. Both regular-season and bowl administration issues would be surveyed, and results would be available by March 2002.

As for the timeline regarding the Oversight Committee's work, the group noted that legislative proposals concerning some of the recommendations reviewed at this meeting could be drafted in time for Management Council review in October. The committee will meet again August 3, and subsequent meetings are planned for January (in conjunction with the 2002 NCAA Convention), May 2002 and August 2002.

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