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By Gary Brown
Division III Presidents Council members at their meeting on Wednesday and Thursday benefited from a hypothetical situation they hope never to experience for real.
The presidents joined their Division II Presidents Council colleagues in “the enforcement experience,” which is a behind-the-scenes look from NCAA staff on what goes on in an enforcement case, from investigation and hearing through penalty assessment.
The two-and-a-half hour session on Wednesday night was a condensed version of a six-hour program that the enforcement staff presented to media members last spring. Modeled after the mock selections that have added transparency to the selection and bracketing process in men’s and women’s basketball, the enforcement experience positions participants as NCAA investigators and Committee on Infractions members. Although the case is fictitious, the confidential tip and ensuing investigation represent a typical scenario.
Participants learn all the steps involved, as well as the roadblocks and challenges that crop up along the way.
“It was image-enhancing,” said Division III Presidents Council chair Jim Bultman from Hope College. “It was not only informative as far as presenting policies and procedures but it also was presented in a winsome way so as to captivate everyone’s interest.
“Though Division III doesn’t have many infractions that result in hearings, it did give us a sense of the thoroughness with which our team works.”
Indeed, of the 99 major infractions cases since 2004, only 10 have involved Division III institutions (72 involved Division I schools and 17 involved Division II institutions). But that doesn’t mean the enforcement experience is not worth a Division III president’s time.
“On the contrary, the opportunity for us to experience the enforcement process is sending me home with a little different perspective,” said Gustavus Adolphus President and Council member Jack Ohle. “We need to do some good risk management, and that means having a conversation with our staff about things that could come up. There might be things that are happening with our student-athletes that we’re not even aware of, and the coaches and staff need to look at that with us as leaders.”
Both Bultman and Ohle encouraged other presidents to “experience” the enforcement experience – though certainly as an onlooker and not as a defendant. The enforcement staff is making another presentation at the NCAA Convention.
“By the time you’ve reached the level of serving on the Presidents Council, you’ve probably had quite a bit of involvement with the NCAA,” Ohle said. “But this was revealing even to me.”
The Presidents Council also heard from NCAA Executive Vice President Bernard Franklin about a successful NCAA Inclusion Summit earlier this fall that attracted more than 450 participants, including about 270 who participated via webinar. Diversity and inclusion officers and consultants from professional sports and other organizations exchanged ideas and best practices that focused not only on boosting the numbers but changing the culture.
“We’re shifting our focus from simply concentrating on the number of minorities or under-represented populations in a given category to being more inclusive regarding what those members bring to the table,” said Franklin, who also serves as the Association’s chief inclusion officer. “We’re not abandoning our efforts to grow the numbers, but we’re more interested in thinking about diversity from a standpoint of inclusion – how do we change climate and culture?
“You can commit to diversity, but that doesn’t guarantee an inclusive culture. You need to learn to tolerate differences, not just represent them.”
In that regard, Franklin talked about a revised governance structure that 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.
Division III Presidents Council members agreed with the approach and asked that the inclusion message be front and center at the presidential luncheon on Jan. 13 during the NCAA Convention. They also asked for examples of best practices that emerged from the Inclusion Summit to fuel the discussion.
“Inclusion is an ongoing process and not an add-on or a one-and-done type of thing,” Bultman said. “Changing the culture is something that takes time and attention on a continuing basis. Some of the best practices that came out of the summit will be helpful to us. It isn’t just talking about it, but knowing how we can make a difference.”
In the spirit of inclusion, the Presidents Council took actions that affect the long-term diversity of its roster. First was to approve in concept legislation that allows the Council to waive the four-year term limit (per Constitution 188.8.131.52) when the nominations subcommittee concludes that an extension is necessary and appropriate to enhance the Council’s continuity and effectiveness (or otherwise allow the Council to continue to fulfill its representational requirements).
With that done, the presidents extended the term of Pittsburgh-Bradford President Livingston Alexander by one year through the 2013 Convention.
That was important, since Alexander is being appointed to chair a working group to conduct a comprehensive review of the current Presidents Council and Presidents Advisory Group (PAG) membership representational requirements. The review will include strategies to enhance the diversity of the Council, including the identification, recruitment and preparation of ethnic minority presidents to serve in the governance structure.
The three-member working group, recommended by the Council’s nominations subcommittee, will provide a preliminary report to the Council by its August 2012 meeting to ensure that any legislative revisions to the Council’s representation requirements could be voted on by the membership (if necessary) at the 2013 Convention. However, it is anticipated that most, if not all changes, could be adopted earlier through noncontroversial legislation.
Among the working group’s goals is to identify and recruit ethnic-minority presidents for governance structure participation, particularly on PAG, since the Presidents Council traditionally has looked to the PAG as a source for new members.
In other roster-related action, the Council approved Western Connecticut State President and current Council vice-chair Jim Schmotter as chair of the group for the 2013 term. The Council also approved Gustavus Adolphus President Ohle to fill Schmotter’s spot as vice chair for that year.
In addition, the Council approved Pamela Reid, president at St. Joseph College (Connecticut), and Erik Bitterbaum, president at State University of New York at Cortland, as nominees to serve four-year terms on the Council that would begin after the 2012 Convention.
As for legislative proposals for the 2012 Convention, the Presidents Council approved the following grouping:
The Presidents Council also agreed that all 10 Convention proposals should be conducted by roll-call vote.