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Publish date: Apr 29, 2011

Executive Committee proposes new diversity structure

By Gary Brown
NCAA.org

The NCAA Executive Committee put a plan in motion at its meeting Thursday to better position the Association’s governance structure to deal with a broadening array of diversity and inclusion issues.

New diversity structure

Current structure

  • Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee (15 members from all three divisions; meets three times annually; charged primarily with advocating race-related diversity issues)
  • Committee on Women’s Athletics (15 members from all three divisions; meets three times annually; charged primarily with advocating gender-related diversity issues)
  • Executive Committee Subcommittee on Gender and Diversity Issues (12 members; meets quarterly; oversees MOIC and CWA)

New structure

  • Joint inclusion oversight panel (seven members, including three presidents and the chairs and vice chairs of MOIC and CWA; meeting frequency to be determined; oversees strategic initiatives related to all types of diversity matters)
  • Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee (18 members, including one presidents from each division; meets three times annually; charged primarily with advocating race-related diversity issues)
  • Committee on Women’s Athletics (18 members, including one president from each three division; meets three times annually; charged primarily with advocating gender-related diversity issues)
  • Two joint MOIC/CWA subcommittees on issues to be determined (five to seven members from MOIC and CWA; meeting frequency to be determined)

The plan enhances the Association-wide Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and the Committee on Women’s Athletics – the two primary diversity bodies that have been in place for two decades – by expanding their rosters from 15 members to 18 (to allow adding one president from each division) and specifying equal distribution of members among Divisions I, II and III.

It also establishes a new “inclusion oversight body” composed of representatives from the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and the Committee on Women’s Athletics (including presidents from those panels) and creates subcommittees to address issues involving everything from age, race, sex, class and creed to educational background, disability and gender expression.

Currently, diversity and inclusion matters are funneled through the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and the Committee on Women’s Athletics, which report to the NCAA Executive Committee Subcommittee on Gender and Diversity Issues. The way those three groups are structured, though, creates some overlap of mission and areas where the structure is not adequately positioned to handle issues beyond race and gender. NCAA officials also believe there hasn’t been enough presidential involvement within the current substructure to provide adequate guidance and insight at the policy-development level.

The new plan dissolves the Executive Committee subcommittee and creates a more strategic substructure to manage an increasingly complex set of issues.

The yet-to-be-named inclusion oversight body will include the presidential members and the chairs and vice chairs of the minority and women’s committees. The group will be charged with the strategic direction of diversity and inclusion in general. The new subcommittees will be composed of five to seven members each from the minority and women’s committees. The 18-member minority and women’s committees will continue to report to the Leadership and Legislative Councils in Division I and the Management Councils in Divisions II and III. The entire diversity and inclusion structure will report to the Executive Committee.

The idea of revising the governance structure emerged when the Executive Committee adopted a new framework surrounding the diversity effort in 2010. That included appointing NCAA Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin as the Association’s chief inclusion officer and combining the former diversity and inclusion and gender-equity staffs at the national office into an office of inclusion. That led to examining the external governance structure, as well.

“From an internal perspective, it quickly became clear that a more unified approach to inclusion would serve the Association well,” Franklin said.

The new plan accomplishes a number of desired outcomes, Franklin said, not the least of which is protecting the brand equity that the minority and women’s committees have generated over two decades.

“Retaining those groups, and in fact fortifying them now with presidential representation, assures that the advocacy of gender- and race-related initiatives that has been the mark of the Committee on Women’s Athletics and the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee will continue,” he said. “More importantly, the new structure establishes subcommittees of those groups that can target specific areas that may not have fit appropriately with either of the primary groups before.”

The Committee on Women’s Athletics and the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee already have supported the change. The governance structures in Divisions I, II and III will be asked to sponsor legislation to expand and modify the MOIC and CWA rosters. The Executive Committee will sponsor the legislation creating the joint inclusion body. All of those proposals are expected to be submitted for the 2012 legislative cycle.

Once the new structure is approved, the committees and subcommittees could be appointed and in place as early as October.

“This is a positive outcome,” Franklin said. “Any time you change anything related to diversity – particularly with the committees assigned to oversee it – you hear concerns that you might be backing off your commitment or going in a different direction. On the contrary, we think this new structure enables talented and committed membership representatives to better address specific issues that may have slipped through the cracks in the old structure.”

Other highlights

In other action at the NCAA Executive Committee’s April 28 meeting, members:

  • Adopted a revised meeting schedule to better position the committee to manage Association-wide issues and to ensure those issues are vetted by the divisional governance bodies before the Executive Committee adjudicates them. Effective immediately, the Executive Committee will meet in person twice annually – in August and at the January NCAA Convention. Those meetings will be held before the divisional president groups meet (previously, the Executive Committee has met afterward), and members will focus on strategic issues to be forwarded to the presidential bodies at their meetings the following day. To manage issues between those biannual Executive Committee meetings, the committee charged its Administrative Subcommittee to be more active and address those matters as necessary.
  • Heard presentations via teleconference from Scott Krapf, chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; Sarah Hebberd, vice chair of the Division II SAAC; and Jessica Maier, vice chair of the Division III SAAC. The Executive Committee also intends to invite SAAC leadership to make in-person presentations at the committee’s Convention meeting.
  • Heard a presentation regarding transgender student-athletes and noted the NCAA’s effort to better educate institutions about accommodating the interests of student-athletes who are transitioning and to develop Association-wide policies regarding transgender student-athlete participation in college sports. To date, the NCAA does not have an Association-wide policy to deal with these cases and has advised institutions to rely on the student-athlete’s government-issued identification to determine gender status. In that vein, the Executive Committee asked the Divisions I, II and III governance structures to consider the following policy recommendations supported by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports and the Committee on Women’s Athletics:
    • A trans-male student-athlete (a person who was born female but is transitioning to male) who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone for diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder, for the purposes of NCAA competition may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a women’s team without changing that team status to a mixed team (a mixed team is not eligible to participate in a women’s championship).
    • A trans-female student-athlete (a person who was born male but is transitioning to female) being treated with testosterone suppression medication for diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed-team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.

(It is the responsibility of the NCAA institution to submit the request for a medical exception for testosterone treatment before the student-athlete competes while undergoing treatment. In the case of testosterone suppression, the institution must submit written documentation of the year of treatment and ongoing monitoring of testosterone suppression. For the purpose of NCAA competition, cases of GID treatment being interrupted will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.)