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Publish date: Oct 20, 2011

DI Bowl Task Force recommends key changes

By Greg Johnson 
NCAA.org

Key points

The Division I Football Bowl Licensing Task Force supports:
  • Moving to a new certification process.
  • New academic standards that ban DI teams not meeting the 930 Academic Progress Rate benchmark from bowl games.
  • Bowl games being conducted in a three-week window.

The Division I Football Bowl Licensing Task Force is recommending that the NCAA shift its focus on the financial viability of bowls to the conferences, which have responsibility for the contests because they contract directly with the bowl agencies for the games.

The task force says this approach favors the NCAA regulating areas more aligned with the Association’s core values of student-athlete welfare and preserving the collegiate model of intercollegiate sports. 

Overall, the task force recommendations will strengthen bowl criteria in the areas of governance, community support, sponsorship and advertising and align them with the values of higher education and intercollegiate athletics, said Harvey Perlman, task force chair and chancellor of the University of Nebraska.

“We are addressing issues that relate to the core values of the NCAA,” said Perlman. “Our members and student-athletes are competing in these contests, and we need to be assured that bowls are governed with integrity.”

The task force, formed by NCAA President Mark Emmert in April, will report its recommendations to the Division I Board of Directors Oct. 27 in Indianapolis.

The task force is recommending the NCAA move to a certification process that puts more responsibility on the Board of Directors and the chief executive officers of the sponsoring bowl organization but will be subject to audits to determine whether the criteria are being met.

The student-athlete welfare recommendations will address the alignment of postseason bowl schedules with the academic calendar along with minimum academic criteria for teams to participate in postseason bowl games.    

If the certification system recommendation is adopted, the NCAA Postseason Bowl Licensing Subcommittee would no longer exist. Since 2004, the subcommittee has licensed bowls to conduct games based on criteria such as minimum attendance figures, letters of credit, media and community support and financial guarantees.

Under the new proposals, those items would be subject to the bowls and the conferences with which they are contracted.

The task force also is recommending that each bowl sponsoring agency adopt policies to regulate advertising. The NCAA president will have the authority to rule in cases where doubt exists concerning acceptable advertising or promotion; however, the following advertisements and promotions would be prohibited:

  • Alcoholic beverages that exceed 6 percent alcohol by volume. Advertising of malt beverages, beer and wine products that do not exceed 6 percent alcohol by volume may be used in game programs. Such advertisements, however, shall not compose more than 14 percent of the space in the program devoted to advertising or not more than 60 seconds per hour of any telecast or broadcast;
  • Cigarettes and other tobacco products;
  • Organizations promoting gambling associated with the outcome of athletic contests;
  • Nontherapeutic drugs;
  • The advertising or promotion of other goods or services that specifically or in the totality of the advertising is inconsistent with the well-being of student athletes or the image and best interests of higher education or intercollegiate athletics.

Each bowl’s CEO and board of directors would be responsible for sending an annual letter of certification to the NCAA national office that confirms it is following all of the task force’s recommended criteria.

The NCAA staff would conduct periodic “audits” of each bowl to determine whether bowls are in compliance and to make that information available to NCAA conferences and the bowls.

Perlman acknowledged that recent allegations pertaining to the Fiesta Bowl in which employees were reimbursed for improper political campaign contributions, unauthorized and excessive executive compensation, and inappropriate expenditures and gifts, contributed to the need for a task force.

Perlman said the recommended governance standards should lead to better internal controls, better management and compliance.

Other recommendations

In addition to the certification system, the task force is calling for all bowl games to be conducted in a three-week window.

While the specific dates depend on the calendar in a particular year, the task force recommends a bowl season that begins most likely after final exams at most institutions and ends in a date in January that in most cases would be before the first day of classes.

“Many years you would not see a significant difference from what you see now,” Perlman said. “But in some years it will be three weeks with the end date close to January 1.”

This would include the BCS Championship Game once the current contract comes to an end in three years.

The task force also supports the new academic standards that the Division I Board of Directors adopted in August that would ban Division I teams that do not meet the 930 Academic Progress Rate benchmark from postseason play, including bowl games.

Perlman said that could increase the odds of a scenario in which there would not be enough eligible teams to fill the available bowl slots if the current number of bowls continue.

To be bowl eligible, Football Bowl Subdivision teams must meet the academic standards and have at least a 6-6 record, in which only one of the victories is against a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, provided that opponent has averaged 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of grants-in-aid per year in football during a rolling two-year period.

“There is certainly a possibility in the current system that we would not have enough eligible teams, and that possibility may be increased under our new rules,” Perlman said. “This is an issue that conferences and the bowls will have to take into account in terms of deciding whether to have a bowl or to contract with someone.”

The NCAA Board would also decide if the moratorium on the licensing of any new postseason football bowls for a period of not more than three years will stay in place.

The moratorium, which was issued in April and regarded new postseason football bowl game licenses, was adopted in order for the task force to do its work.