By Gary Brown
NCAA President Mark Emmert is inviting about 50 Division I presidents and chancellors to Indianapolis on Aug. 9 and 10 to vet issues affecting the collegiate model of athletics and discuss direction for the division for the coming years.
Emmert, who began his term as the NCAA’s fifth chief executive officer in October 2010, is convening a presidential retreat to discuss continued expectations for student-athlete academic success, fiscal sustainability in Division I and fortifying the integrity of the enterprise, among other things.
Emmert did not identify a specific agenda, but he indicated discussions will be purposefully broad.
“Since I began as NCAA president in October, I have made it a point to reach out to constituents and stakeholders all over the country to talk about what people think of the collegiate model,” Emmert said. “This retreat in August is a chance for me to share with my presidential colleagues what I have heard regarding the issues and some of my thoughts on how we might address them.
Emmert stressed that the retreat, which has been in the planning stages for several months, is not the direct result of specific incidents that have occurred recently at NCAA member schools.
Rather, he said, it is an opportunity to discuss the three large areas that clearly were top of mind with presidents and chancellors when the national office surveyed them recently to identify what they thought the top issues affecting the collegiate model were.
The survey revealed significant interest at the presidential level in:
All current members of the Division I Board of Directors – the highest-ranking governing body in the division – and the Presidents Advisory Group (which includes presidents and chancellors from conferences not otherwise represented in the 18-member Board of Directors) have been invited to attend, as have the chairs of the Divisions II and III Presidents Councils (the leadership bodies in those two divisions).
Emmert also invited other presidents and chancellors who, while they may not currently be active in the NCAA governance structure, either have been previously or have been involved with intercollegiate athletics in a way to offer valuable, historical perspective on the enterprise.
Emmert said the retreat will not likely produce immediate solutions.
“Detail takes time,” he said. “It takes deliberation among those with expertise on these matters to be thinking about specific implications and applications – and consequences. There is a sense of specific issues in intercollegiate athletics that deserve attention. We’re trying to ensure that the collegiate model – which is after all a pretty unique one – remains a model in which people have faith. That requires periodic examination at a senior level.”
Emmert said whatever emerges will be vetted as is appropriate through a structure that gives people the opportunity to express their opinion.
“The point of that vetting is to prompt conversation that would give substance to the direction presidents identify,” he said. “For example, how do we look at issues around the integrity of the collegiate model? Is there a sense that we need stronger investigative tools? Is there a sense that we need a more understood and more comprehensive penalty structure? How do we look at the embedding of athletics in a way that sends clear messages to institutions before student-athletes even arrive on campus that there is an expectation of academic success?”
The retreat will not be open to the media or general public. Much of it in fact is expected to be held in “executive session,” meaning that just Emmert and other presidents are in the room at the time of discussion.
The Division I Board of Directors and the Divisions II and III Presidents Councils hold their regular summer meetings the next day, along with the NCAA Executive Committee.