Five Issues for the Next NCAA President

Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal published an article on December 7 looking into five significant issues that will likely face the next NCAA President. Fiscal responsibility is cited as the top issue. The article references the Knight Commission’s presidential survey that questions the financial sustainability of the current Division I model and the widening gap between the haves and have-nots. Below are sections from the article on each of the five issues:

“1. Fiscal responsibility.

Ultimately, though, the question remains: What has changed? The Knight Commission’s pre-recession report showed that spending on athletics had increased three to four times faster than spending on the rest of campus. With a recession, however, presidents who weren’t interested in curbing the spending of their ADs before are more inclined to now.

“The current financial picture of intercollegiate athletics and its future is something that’s really got to be looked at,” said Mike Alden, athletic director at the University of Missouri, who listed fiscal concerns at the top of his to-do list for the next NCAA president.

2. Next media contract

Almost immediately after stepping into the job, the NCAA’s next president will have to decide who should broadcast the NCAA basketball tournament.

CBS holds the rights to the annual tournament through an 11-year, $6 billion deal signed earlier this decade that runs through the 2013 season. But the deal gives the NCAA an out-clause that after the 2009-10 season could allow the organization to begin negotiating with another television network.

3. Haves vs have-nots

“When you look at the size of the stadiums, when you look at the fundraising, when you look at the TV contracts, there is an ever-widening gap between schools,” said Mike Thomas, athletic director at the University of Cincinnati, which has one of the smallest budgets among schools in one of the big six BCS conferences.

Joel Maturi, athletic director at the University of Minnesota, said there’s not an equitable system of distributing revenue because it’s not equitably generated. Nine of the 10 teams in BCS bowls last year represented the big six conferences.

“The BCS doesn’t want to share the money and that’s why there’s no football playoff,” Maturi said. “Let’s be honest. We bring in the money. Why should we share it? We need the money desperately because we’re paying coaches millions of dollars.”

4. Diversity in hiring

Just seven of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision head football coaches are African-American, and although coaches of color are being interviewed, not that many more are being hired. In fact, there were more African-American head football coaches in 1997 (eight) than there are in the 2009 season.

Of the 22 FBS schools that had coaching vacancies after the 2008 season, 29 percent of the candidates they interviewed were minorities, down from 31 percent the year before.

The Black Coaches and Administrators have urged the NCAA to explore a version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” that would require schools to interview minorities for their head-coaching vacancies in football.

5. Football playoff

Many would contend that this issue doesn’t even belong on the NCAA’s radar because the conference commissioners run the BCS. As long as the championship is managed at the conference level, the NCAA doesn’t really have a say in how football’s national champion is determined.

The NCAA asserts that it doesn’t have a role. As a member-driven organization, it responds to the needs of the institutions and the institutions say they don’t need the NCAA to manage its football championship. That doesn’t mean that the next NCAA president can’t make a football playoff one of the prime talking points of the next administration. But will it go anywhere?”