By Greg Johnson
Beginning this year, student-athletes on all 89 NCAA national championship teams will receive commemorative hats and T-shirts upon their victory.
The tradition previously conducted at about 25 percent of the NCAAA’s championships is being expanded as part of an ongoing and comprehensive review of NCAA championships administration and policies to enhance student-athletes’ postseason experience.
Shirts and hats like the ones awarded to 2011 Division I Field Hockey champion Maryland will now be distributed at all 89 championships.
The new initiative, called the “NCAA Champions Locker Room Program,” came from a staff task force that examined awards, gifts and mementos that student-athletes receive at national championships.
“We want to broaden the Champions Locker Room Program to include as many championships as possible,” said Ron English, chair of the task force and a member of the NCAA championships and alliances staff.
“We thought right away that this would be a good way to enhance the student-athlete experience at championships,” said task force member Dave Clendenin, who also is part of the championships and alliances staff. “Our current licensees were eager to be part of this, as well.”
The task force also is reviewing the awards that the NCAA provides student-athletes for their postseason participation. Recognition for student-athletes who earn all-tournament and Most Outstanding Player status during NCAA championships also is being considered.
While the task force won’t recommend changing how those being recognized are selected, it is discussing how to assure the award commemorating the accomplishment reflects the achievement. Feedback from the Division I, II and III Student-Athlete Advisory Committees will help guide recommendations.
“Since an NCAA championship is the highest level at which student-athletes can compete, we want to make sure the awards they receive truly reflect that achievement,” English said.
The task force is one of more than a dozen such review teams that have been charged with the vetting the existing and prospective practices of the combined championships and alliances unit, which now oversees all 89 NCAA championships, statistics, media services, playing rules, and corporate and broadcast alliances.