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NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 6, 2014
THE MODERATOR:¬† Good morning and welcome to the NCAA president's Final Four press conference.¬† Joining President Emmert this morning is Big 12 conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Nathan Hatch, Division I Board of Director Chair and president of Wake Forest University, Division I Steering Committee For Governance members Michael Drake, Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, and incoming president of the Ohio State University, and Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University.
With that I'll turn it over to President Emmert.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Thank you, Bob, and good morning to everyone.¬† Thank you for being here at this venue.¬† We appreciate you taking time to come out to the stadium again.
The reality is we know you have lots and lots of questions and we want to get to them as quickly as we can, but I also wanted to make sure that you have an opportunity to talk to some of the leaders of the association.
It's often the case that we're confused with the sports league or some other organization, and the reality, of course, is as all of you know, this is an association of the members.
We are in the midst of a variety of different issues that are going on and I wanted to make sure you could get access to some of the folks that are making those decisions and probe their logic and thought process a bit.
The tournament has, as everyone's seen, been an extraordinary tournament.¬† We have had some spectacular games, many would argue some of the best games ever.¬† We had two wonderful games again last night, and I'm sure we'll have a terrific final on Monday.
At the same time, we up here, and especially these folks to my left, also recognize that there's 460,000 student‑athletes out there.¬† They have a responsibility to all 460,000, not just the ones that are going to take the floor at this venue or any other venue.¬† We know that you all write about somewhere around a thousand or so of those 460,000, not the other 450,000.¬† They are working on processes that pay attention to what happens with all of those student‑athletes as well.
So I'm going to begin by asking Bob Bowlsby, who is, as you know, the commissioner of the Big 12.¬† He's also been an athletic director at Stanford and at Iowa, been involved in intercollegiate athletics all of his career.¬† Bob's going to make some opening comments and then we'll go from there to Nathan Hatch and down the line here.
COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY: Good morning, all.¬† Thank you, Mark.¬† Appreciate you coming out on an inclement weather day.¬† It will improve before we all go to see the boss this afternoon.¬† It's going to get better.
It's hard for me to believe it, but I have to say, I've been at this 35 years now.¬† I got started as an educator and a coach.¬† I have always considered myself as such.¬† As I look back on that time, there's really been a lot of change and yet there's a lot of stuff that's exactly the same.¬† We in some ways have been unwilling or unable to make meaningful change, and it feels like for a variety of reasons, we now have an opportunity to do that.
But as we go forward, we want to make sure that we're insuring the student‑athlete welfare is what it ought to be.¬† That comes in a lot of forms and shapes and sizes, and first among that, and there's been a lot of talk about it, is what does a scholarship look like?
Well, it's a good time for us to think about redefining what a scholarship looks like.¬† Certainly something around the cost of attendance makes a lot of sense and has gotten a lot of popular play, but the devil's in the details of that.¬† There are widely varying costs of attendance, and it's not as easy to do as it may seem, even if we're willing.¬† We certainly are willing.
There's a lot of talk about the health and safety and well being of student‑athletes from a competitive standpoint.¬† We have focused a hot light on concussions, and I think we made a lot of progress, especially in the sport of football.
But we need to remember that one of the highest incident sports for concussions is women's ice hockey, hasn't gotten much publicity, but there's some challenges there.¬† Men's and women's soccer are both in the queue among those where head injuries are pretty significant.
I think in large measure we have sometimes gotten away from investing in what we think is important.¬† I think that we always ought to be about degree completion and about getting done what needs to get done on campus.
In the midst of the tournament, we get a lot of talk about early departures and graduation rates and the like, but I think over time, we have gotten away from using our bedrock as that of educating young people and having a lifetime partnership with them that would lead them to a productive life, and to a not only a more productive, but a more lucrative life.¬† I think everyone understands that a college education yields benefits that go very far beyond just the value of that education.
So I think there's lots of work to do on student‑athlete welfare.¬† I think the other thing is, we haven't taken a real good look at the recruiting environment for 40 years.¬† Our rules are just about like they have always been.¬† They really don't reflect the new technologies.¬† As an example, I don't know that there's any reason why we can't use Facetime and Skype for some of the early recruitment process things instead of going in and disrupting high schools for a high profile student‑athlete.¬† That disruption is really quite extraordinary.
So we need to be thinking about the recruiting environment.¬† It's a different day.¬† We need to have a different covenant with our student‑athletes, and I think it starts with recruiting and goes through the issues that pertain to graduation.¬† While they're there, that experience has gotten to be probably more full than it ought to be.¬† We really need to take a look at time commitments and how student‑athletes spend their time.¬† How much of their time they're spending in so‑called countable activities and those that are exceptions to countable activities.
There's no question that those hours have crept upward, that there's expectation of more in the way of voluntary workouts and more in the way of outside film study and those kinds of things.¬† We really need to take a look at thinking about such things as one semester sports.¬† Those things are not easy to do.
Some of our TV partners would be and apoplectic to actually think about such things.¬† But I think now is a good time for us to think about those kinds of things.
Additionally, we really need to invite not only the voice of student‑athletes, but we need to afford them some prerogatives.¬† My experiences with students over the years has been that the ones that are involved in the NCAA are the best and brightest.¬† They're absolutely exceptional in every way.¬† They're trustworthy, they're thoughtful, they're passionate, and they're insightful.¬† We not only need to empower them to have a voice, but we need to arm them with some prerogatives to have a say in how things turn out in our business.
So I think that we, the steering committee, has really done a remarkable job of moving us forward, and you're going to hear a little bit more about how that all fits together.¬† But I tried to give you just a few ideas and concepts on why we need to think about the kinds of governance things that we're contemplating, and I think that you'll hear a little bit more about the that.
But in short, our situation has been over recent years that we come up with a good ideas that might be supportive and helpful to some of the schools.¬† By the time we take a legislative proposal through the system, it doesn't look at all like the thoroughbred racehorse that we thought we were inventing and instead it turns out looking like a three‑legged camel that really doesn't serve anybody's interests or needs.¬† We need to find a way where we can do better than that, because ultimately it's the student‑athlete experience and all the other things that I've mentioned that suffers as a result of it.
So let me stop there.¬† I'll be happy to answer questions later, and I'll turn it over to President Nathan Hatch, who is leading the steering committee and has really done an extraordinary job with a difficult task.
PRESIDENT HATCH:¬† Good morning.¬† I would just like to underscore the diversity of Division I, it's 340 institutions and institutions whose athletic budgets range from $5 million to $150 million.¬† Our goal is to keep that as one division, that has great advantages.¬† Even if you look at this tournament, you have some teams like Mercer, Dayton, and Wichita State that advanced, and it's the Democratic nature of this tournament I think that is a wonderful example of why it's good to have Division I together.
At the same time, we do have to find a way to recognize the differences, and so in our governance reform, we do want to grant certain areas of autonomy to the five well‑resource conferences.¬† We discussed that often, I think the full membership will support that.¬† And particularly the goal of that is to enhance student‑athletes.
As you know, in those conferences the pressure on student‑athletes is greater and thus we need to find better more effective means of support.
So having said that, I'll turn it over to Michael Drake, who is at the University of California, Irvine, as chancellor, but this summer will become president of Ohio State.
CHANCELLOR DRAKE:¬† Thank you very much.
I would just say that the process of working with my colleagues on the steering committee has been quite informative and quite interactive.¬† I think we made great progress coming from different points of view and different perspectives to try to really move those things forward that have been maybe stuck in the organization for awhile, to get some real progress there.
So I'm very pleased about the progress that we have made and I'm looking forward to more even later this month as we come together again.
One of the chief goals that we have had is to make sure that we insure a voice for student‑athletes in the process.¬† We want to make sure our student‑athletes are represented and have a place to vote and make their voices heard and known.¬† That's been something we have brought along as a very important component.
We want the new structure to be simpler and more nimble, more able to react to the modern concerns that we have, and I think that we have something that will be able to do that.
We want to also know that it's very important to allow some schools, those in the most heavily‑resourced conferences, to be able to have autonomy on the part of the athletic enterprise that they manage, because the pressures are different there.¬† That will really facilitate everyone working together.¬† One size does not, in fact, fit all.
Then, finally, I think it's critically important that we preserve the model of collegiate athletics.¬† It's been a wonderful model that has served many, many people well.¬† As we mentioned, there are over 400,000 student‑athletes in the country today, hundreds on my campus.¬† My father was a student‑athlete in the 1930s, wouldn't have gone to college had that not been the case.¬† My son was a student‑athlete, and I really enjoyed his experience because of that.
Our job really is to take young people and help to develop them in the classroom, but also to help them build their character and leadership opportunities and capabilities, to give them the social capital to really prepare them for life after college.¬† Athletics is one of the ways that we do that.
So we're really committed to trying to maintain the collegiate student‑athlete athletic model.¬† Let me now move or give the mic phone to Kirk, my colleague.
PRESIDENT SCHULZ:¬† Well, first, I would like to express my appreciation to President Emmert at inviting some of his presidential colleagues to participate in this this morning.
I must say, I've got my set of comments here, but I've been trying to figure out how to get a three‑legged camel in there somehow (laughter).¬† I can see a three‑legged camel with an NCAA logo on the side, and that's not what we're trying to accomplish.
As we talk about governance reform, governance reform probably doesn't excite anybody.¬† It's what the outcomes of governance reform are that really I want to focus my comments on.
The student‑athlete experience, we've talked and most of my colleagues have mentioned this, is something that is the purpose of doing the governance reform.¬† We want to do things to make sure that we have a lifetime scholarship guarantee for our student‑athletes, that we really talk about full cost of attendance and making sure that we're providing appropriate financial benefits for our student‑athletes.¬† Particularly in the higher‑resourced or big‑five conferences.
Student‑athletes need some break from their sport and we want to make sure we have a safe and healthy environment for all of our student‑athletes, regardless of what of the different division one sports that they're playing in.
So three years ago we had a group of presidents that sort of started this in Indianapolis over several days and we have had our fits and starts.¬† But I really believe that what's going to be coming out in the next couple weeks is really going to be the answer to continue to evolve the NCAA and Division I athletics to a place that all of us think is better.¬† It won't be perfect, it won't be everything, but I think what we're going to do is really get us to where we need to be to recognize a changing landscape of Division I athletics.
So thank you.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† With that, we would be happy to take questions.
Q.¬† Heard a couple of guys up here talk about trying to give students a bigger voice.¬† I'm wondering if that is any reaction to the NLRB decision?¬† Speaking of that, do you have any kind of contingency plan?¬† Have you thought about the future if that decision is upheld?¬† Do you know how it might affect the NCAA in the way it operates?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Sure.¬† I think that everybody's focused on that initial decision in the case, and the implications of it are profound, to say the least.
The conversations about the governance changes that our colleagues are talking about here, I'll let them address, but those are conversations that have been going on for several years now.¬† It way preceded the following of a unionized player movement.
The reality is, is that every university president, all of the folks here and myself, when I was a university president, are very accustomed to having students involved in the governance at universities.¬† Almost every university board now has students on those boards that are voting members.¬† They participate with the board.¬† As a university president, I had students voting on whether or not I would get hired and fired.¬† So we're all used to that.
So I think it's very clear that that has not been a reaction to the NLRB.
I'll comeback to the second part of your question.
Does anyone want to add anything comment on that.
PRESIDENT HATCH:¬† Let me say, that since the fall when we began crafting a template for this reform, we have thought of having a student representative on the board, which will look overall at strategy and operations.¬† On the main operating group, the counsel, we'll have student‑athletes on both of those, and that's been in the works for over six months.
PRESIDENT SCHULZ:¬† I think at the NCAA conference, a student‑athlete from Duke University stood up in our open sessions and was very eloquent in their desire to be more involved in governance and where the NCAA goes.
So I think that the NLRB board decision has been certainly in the media recently, but this is something that's been going on for awhile.
Let me give a cautionary part to this.¬† We have huge demands of our student‑athletes.¬† They're full‑time students.¬† Many, many of them are in really tough, tough degree programs.¬† On top of that, they have almost zero social life.¬† They're doing all these things to make sure that they're competing at the highest level, generally year round, and we got to be careful.¬† They need a voice, but we can't add too much to an already full slate.
So while I want to make sure we're doing things that are as possible to help those student‑athletes be part of their future, I think we also can't over‑involve them because we're already asking an awful lot of them currently, and that's kind of missing sometimes in the conversation.
PRESIDENT HATCH:¬† One of the things we have considered is actually having representatives of students immediately after they graduate, because they would have more time to devote to these issues.
CHANCELLOR DRAKE:¬† More time, they have perspective and other things, so I want to echo the theme that students are involved in our decision‑making in our daily lives and have been for years and add a great deal to that.¬† We want to make sure that the association benefits from that as well.
COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY:¬† And just for context, virtually every campus has a student‑athlete advisory group, and that group sends forward representatives to a conference student‑athlete committee, so there's a fabric of student‑athlete involvement.¬† This isn't going to have to be made from whole cloth.¬† We just I think need to change the way we surface and funnel information.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† So the proposals that are under consideration would have both voice and vote for student‑athletes, both on the board and on the legislative counsel.
But to the follow‑up to your question about the contingency planning for the NLRB, first of all, as I suspect everyone here knows, the NLRB case at Northwestern only involves the university's football players and the union that's trying to organize them.¬† So the NCAA is not a party to that conversation.¬† It will now move into appeals process.¬† The NCAA and other bodies can file amicus briefs on behalf of the university, but we're not officially in that process.
I fully anticipate, depending upon the kinds of outcomes that should that proceed, it will likely proceed to the national NLRB and then on to the courts.¬† So this will probably be a long drawn‑out multi‑year debate that goes on.
As far as contingency plans, no one has sat and figured out what a contingency plan would be.¬† To be perfectly frank, the notion of using a union employee model to address the challenges that do exist in intercollegiate athletics is something that strikes most people as a grossly inappropriate solution to the problems.¬† To convert to a unionized employee model is essentially to throw away the entire collegiate model for athletics.¬† You can't split that one in two.¬† You're either a student at a university playing your sports or you're an employee of that university.
If you move to a model where you have labor negotiations between management‑ that would be coaches and athletic directors and student‑athletes‑ to determine everything about what that relationship should be, is a wildly different notion than saying these are students.¬† It would blowup everything about the collegiate model of athletics.¬† There are some people that think that would be fine.¬† I don't think that represents the views of anybody up here right now.
Anybody else have any observations you want to throw out?
THE MODERATOR:¬† Next question, please.
Q.¬† Mark, you have four conferences that have now come into Vegas with their conference tournaments, you have an enforcement staff that obviously has a relationship with the books there and with the betting people there to make sure it's regulated.¬† Because it's taken those steps, would this not be a time to reconsider bringing your championships there, and if not, why?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Well, that's certainly an issue.¬† Again that's one that's settled by the membership, not by me or the national office.¬† The membership has, I personally think, very appropriately been very concerned about the infiltration of gambling into college sports.¬† We know when it's happened it's had incredibly negative impacts.
We want to make sure that the games are conducted in a way that's utterly free from the taint of gambling.¬† Whether or not it's an appropriate time to reconsider the policies about championships is something that the membership would have to debate.¬† There's not an active conversation right now on that.
As you know, we have been involved along with the NFL and NBA and Major League Baseball in the lawsuit to block single‑game wagering in New Jersey, and that's been the position of the association.¬† Again unless the membership decides it wants to revisit it, it's not on the agenda right now.
Q.¬† For you and anybody else who wants to contribute, the so‑called one‑and‑done situation, succeed and proceed, whatever you want to call it, and seeing that Kentucky's one win away from being the first to start five freshmen to win a National Championship, your thoughts about this business model, for lack of a better expression, do you agree with it?¬† Disagree with it?¬† Like it?¬† Not like it?¬† Want to see it changed?¬† I know you only have a minimal amount of control over there.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Sure.¬† As everyone here knows this is enshrined in the labor agreement between the NBA and the NBA Players and not a rule that we have control over.¬† I've been pretty vocal in opposition to that notion.¬† I think everybody here knows my position on it.¬† It might be useful to hear from our colleagues, their views of the whole one‑and‑done notion.
CHANCELLOR DRAKE:¬† I think we all agree.¬† My business, what I do, is to try to prepare young people for a future.¬† We have a four‑year degree because we believe it takes that much time to mature and to get those life skills to go out and have the 60 years that follow college and to be able to be a contributing member and leader in your society and community.¬† So that's what I would support.
PRESIDENT HATCH:¬† Every president I know and every conference I know is pretty adamantly opposed to that and hopes that the NBA and the NBA Players Association will make some changes to something more in the model of what baseball is.
COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY:¬† And I think that the other aspect to it that bears mentioning is unlike Major League Baseball, where we have had an ongoing relationship, where you draft out of high school or leave them alone until after their junior year, I really think the NFL and NBA have been irresponsible in not providing other legitimate opportunities for kids that really don't want to go to college.¬† I think that's really where the rubber hits the road.
There ought to be some other feeder system than the one that kids get forced into as a result of the profile of our programs.
Q.¬† For Mark and anyone else who wants to weigh in.¬† A lot of these reforms you're considering are on parallel track that is contained in some of these lawsuits.¬† They're in the bullet points in the unionization statement.¬† How do you get this accomplished?¬† Essentially how do you beat them to the courts or to a union?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Rotator cuff?¬† Okay.¬† I've had both sides.¬† I know the sling.
Well, first of all, as a number of the presidents have commented, much of these activities and these reform efforts have been underway since at least the summer of 2011.¬† And the membership has been working hard, diligently trying to figure out ways to make sure that the support that student‑athletes need to be successful is in place.
I agree with you that many of the things that student‑athletes at least, not necessarily plaintiff lawyers, but student‑athletes are saying they would like to see changed are things that I think everybody up here agrees with.¬† I don't think there's a great disagreement.¬† I think the question is what's the best way to get there and how do we do that effectively.
I think you're right in that we need to move quickly.¬† I mean, it's time to act.¬† It's time to get on with demonstrating the will of the membership.¬† It is an association.¬† It is a group that makes decisions in a ponderous Democratic process.¬† These people to my left are trying very much to change the decision‑making structure, so that they can make decisions much more rapidly and address things in a much more realtime way.¬† I think that is exactly the goal.
I'll let them also respond, but I think that's precisely what they're trying to do, is make sure that the association can be managed in a way that it can address the issues and needs of our student‑athletes, help them be successful and do it in a sprightly way.
COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY:¬† I think it's also appropriate to mention that we have made several attempts in moving in these directions, only to have them voted down as a result of competitive equity considerations.¬† So the ideas are certainly not new.¬† The ability to move them through the system is a long time and ongoing challenge at this point.
PRESIDENT HATCH:¬† I think we are on a timetable.¬† At the April meeting of the Division I board, I think we will approve a template that will go back out to the members and we intend for the board to approve this plan in August.
CHANCELLOR DRAKE:¬† I would say that my colleagues under Nathan's leadership came together really just starting in December and have made rapid progress to what the group will see in April and be ready to vote on this summer.¬† So we think that we're very optimistic that this will move forward.
Q.¬† Just a follow‑up to that, how optimistic are you that this is going to go through?¬† Do the members who have voted against it, do they have a good understanding that the situation's dire at this point?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Well, I'll let my colleagues answer.¬† I'm very optimistic, but then I don't get to vote.¬† So I'll let these folks answer.¬† They represent a pretty nice cross‑section of the membership and they might provide more accurate view of this.
PRESIDENT HATCH:¬† I do think the most complicated issues, that of autonomy.¬† But at the NCAA convention in January we had 800 people there and we took an immediate vote and 70 percent approved the idea of some form of autonomy.
We continue to have meetings.¬† We met with over a hundred athletic directors yesterday.¬† I'm pretty confident that this can happen.¬† It could be voted down and an override by the extremes, by certain people in the big conferences who don't think it goes far enough and certain people in small conference who think the change is too much.
But I'm confident that it will go through.
CHANCELLOR DRAKE:¬† We have taken a lot of input, a lot of information from people with a variety of points of view.¬† Nathan mentioned we were all together for several days in San Diego in January and really talked with hundreds of people.¬† Then went back and massaged their suggestions and interests.¬† I think that we have something that looks pretty good.
So I think I'm optimistic that the membership broadly will see this as progress.¬† Not so much because of the dire circumstances that one sees, but actually because it's time for reform.
PRESIDENT SCHULZ:¬† I think as well that most of Division I memberships see that we're standing at a fork in the road.¬† What we're going to put out there again is not perfect, but I believe that the vast majority of members recognize that some of these things must change and that we need to do it rapidly.
So I'm very optimistic that we're going to have some no votes, but I think at the end of the day, there's a realization that if you don't do this, that we could be in some real trouble.
Q.¬† Two part question for you, President Emmert.¬† First, we have heard a lot about the four‑year experience.¬† If that's the case, why aren't members institutions compelled to offer a four‑year tender?¬† And the second question is, do you believe the universities are obligated to at least explore or provide long‑term healthcare for athletes?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Yeah, so in the first case, and again I'm going to ask my colleagues to comment on this, in the first case, the membership in 2011, moved from not allowing‑‑ there was literally a prohibition against multi‑year scholarships to one that now allows multi‑year scholarships.¬† Many institutions are, many aren't.¬† I think one of the very aggressive debates that will go on under this new governance model is whether or not it should in fact be mandatory that it be a multi‑year commitment.
The reality is, is that for, I don't know what the numbers would be, but at least 95, maybe 99 percent of student‑athletes, it is indeed a four‑ or five‑year commitment.¬† There are very, very rare cases where it is not a multi‑year commitment in affect. ¬†But then they will debate and decide whether or not it should be.
I think and I know some others have asserted that moving toward a model, especially with the high resource institutions, that the scholarship is really a commitment for a Bachelor's Degree is a great idea.¬† I love the notion of saying this scholarship should be until you finish your Bachelor's Degree.¬† If somebody leaves for some reason or another to play professionally for a bit, and then comes back and returns, that it ought to be honored in that context as well.
So I think that moving toward a broader commitment where this is a notion that you will be supported through your educational experience is a really strong one.
I'm sorry.¬† What was the second part of your question?
Q.¬† Long‑term medical coverage.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Yeah, I think that there's a lot of misunderstanding about the quality of the medical coverage that exists now.¬† Again, there are situations where you can point to where there's one or another example where the coverage hasn't been as good as it probably could have been.¬† But for the vast majority of circumstances, the coverage is quite excellent.
There is in place long‑term coverage.¬† For injuries that occur during your playing time, there is coverage for immediately after that.¬† The challenge with long‑term coverage, and again something that I hope is aggressively debated in the coming months under this new model, is making sure that you understand injuries that occur during your playing time.¬† I think it's incumbent upon the membership to have a good debate about what that would look like and how we can make it be successful and provide legitimate, good, high‑quality coverage going forward.¬† The devil's in the detail in all of that, but I think we need to have that debate.
Anybody want to add to that?
CHANCELLOR DRAKE:¬† Agree.¬† Agree.
Q.¬† Is there a feeling among any of you that there's an erosion of the NCAA's power taking place and do any of you remember a time when there have been so many perceived threats through lawsuits and even public opinion taking place?
COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY:¬† Well, first of all, it's important to remember that we are the NCAA.¬† Whatever's going on in Indianapolis is not a one‑eyed ogre that exists on its own.¬† It's a lot bigger than President Emmert and it's bigger than singular institutions.
Whatever it is or isn't today, we made it that way, the collective votes of member institutions.¬† It's a membership organization.¬† It's operated by members.¬† We have a number of members of the Men's Basketball Committee here today, and we have a broad system of committees that manage virtually every aspect of the NCAA with a very fine executive staff.
But the policies and procedures that are currently in place are a result of the actions or inactions of the collective membership, and so it isn't a stand‑alone behemoth.¬† It is really the aggregate of the things that we have all done over the years.
PRESIDENT SCHULZ:¬† I do think that the world of social media has changed just a bit as well.¬† There's nothing that happens now that is not immediately plastered all over out there, and I think this is sort of a blessing and curse, right?
The blessing is we have a lot of people out there interested in DivisionI athletics.¬† They fill up our stadiums, they come and they tailgate, they're an active participant.¬† They want to see their schools be successful.¬† On the other hand, any old thing now can get out there and just spread like wildfire overnight.
So I have great confidence that we're going to get some of these things fixed and get it right.¬† The NCAA by nature of what we're trying to do is never going to be a perfect organization, and we're not going to have our fans all wearing logos about the NCAA.¬† But I do think we can get to the point where people say, You know what?¬† It's an excellent organization, it makes sure that we have a fair playing field, it does the regulation‑type things that it needs to do.
I think we all need to be on this bandwagon of success moving forward, which I think we will be after the reforms.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† We have never had a better example of the speed with which we can now commit to change than watching Michael Drake become Rita Cheng before your very eyes.
So sorry, Dr. Drake had to leave to catch a plane and this is Dr. Rita Cheng.¬† She's the chancellor of University of Illinois Carbondale, and also a member of the steering committee that's involved in this transition.
Q.¬† President Emmert, do you have any feelings about a team that was sanctioned with APR penalties last year being in the title game so quickly, and are you pleased at that?¬† Maybe disappointed the penalties didn't have a bigger impact?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Well, I'm personally very pleased at it.¬† The reality is, is that University of Connecticut, as we all know, had really abysmal APR performance for a consistent period of time.¬† They had to achieve, in relatively short order, essentially a thousand APR, perfect APR score.¬† The university, they have got a new president, new coach, new AD, and they were deeply committed to making those changes and they have done it.¬† It's actually very impressive.
And to also see that team hold together, I think it's a commitment to those young men on that team that they hung together.¬† They could have bolted for other programs and they didn't.¬† They stayed there.¬† They did the work that they were supposed to do.¬† They're being successful at it.
So as many of you know, I was at the University of Connecticut, I was provost and chancellor there.¬† It was painful for me to watch them go through that.¬† As the former chief academic officer, it was painful to watch them go through those kind of issues, and I'm delighted that they're doing well, not just on the court, but in the classroom.
Q.¬† President Emmert, with record crowds here last night, is it safe to assume that events like this, the college championship game in football will be confined to facilities like this one and cities like, for example, San Antonio that used to host events like this, for lack of a better word, need to maybe step up their game a little bit facility‑wise?
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† Well, we have got some members of the Basketball Committee sitting here and they're the ones that are actively engaged in those decisions.¬† It's certainly something that I know we get a lively debate around.
We all love the confines of a nice, tight arena.¬† It's a great venue for basketball.¬† I know there's some critique about playing in a big venue like this or San Antonio or somewhere else.¬† But the reality is, you can get 80,000 people in to watch a game and that's pretty exciting.¬† There may be people that would like to be in a tighter arena, but not the 60,000 that wouldn't be there.
So the near‑term commitment has been to play in big arenas, big stadiums.¬† The events here last night were pretty fabulous.¬† This is a superb arena, stadium, and experience, there's no better stadium probably in the country than this one.
We'll see what Minnesota looks like, but, yeah, if you're going to have games like this in big stadiums, they have got to be really good facilities or it just doesn't work.¬† This one works pretty darn well.
Q.¬† Bob mentioned in his opening remarks collectively that you guys thought that the NCAA's core mission kind of has gotten lost, I'm paraphrasing here, and also mentioned the fact that there's been now an embracing of giving student‑athletes more options in particular.¬† You've also mentioned that things changed slowly, yet the business of the NCAA seems to have gone on without any interruption.¬† So my question is, how is it, and what has the NCAA been focused on, that has allowed it to lose sight of its mission and not embrace more quickly the fact that these student‑athletes do indeed deserve more options?
COMMISSIONER BOWLSBY:¬† Let me clarify your characterization.¬† What I said was we need to and haven't always made decisions based upon graduation as the goal.¬† I don't know that the organization has lost its mission or moved away from it, but I do think that if you apply changing the lives of students as a result of getting a college degree as one of the first things you look at when you make decisions, you come up with different decisions than you would otherwise.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† I think that we always have to remember that when you're watching this tournament, for example, you're watching such a tiny fraction of the NCAA.¬† I know that there are those that like to discount the fact that there's 460,000 students or 200,000 in Division I.¬† This group doesn't.¬† We in the national office don't.
Our responsibilities and obligations are to all of them, and their graduation rates, their successes, and their preparation for life going forward is spectacular.¬† They're doing really, really well.¬† There has been a lot of focus on that.
But when people look at the time commitments, the growth and creeping of the time commitments to be a successful Division I athlete, the resources that young men and women need to be successful in the classroom and the preparation that they need to get ready for life, yeah, I think we have, in fact, seen too much of a shift toward athletic success and not enough on the success and the preparation to be the kind of people they will be when that athletic career is over.
Whether it's the last shot they're going to take tomorrow night or whether it's after three or five years in the pros, even if you have a professional career, you're still going to have a lot more of your life doing something else.
So we're trying to make sure that we are focused on that as tightly as we can.¬† I agree with Bob, I don't think the association membership lost its core focus, but that doesn't mean it doesn't need to be adjusted constantly.¬† You got to pay attention to that, because the competitive urges of everybody are such that you are constantly trying to find more ways to compete.¬† We have to be sure that we're providing opportunities for them and requirements that they be serious students.
PRESIDENT SCHULZ:¬† Let me offer another comment on that.¬† I think there's a perception at times that maybe we have been asleep at the switch because of the way we sort of maybe do some of our media relations, and you all need to be in the room at times when we are having these discussions to go, You know what, they're being pretty thoughtful and they're thinking through this very clearly and there's some complex issues here that are not easy to address.¬† I mean this kind of collectively over a period of time.
We have got to also get into more modern world of the social media and having folks, like yourself, sometimes in the room and hear these kinds of things and go, You know what, this isn't as simple as we might have thought and they're not asleep at the wheel, the leadership of the NCAA is being deliberative and making sure that we're coming out with the right sort of things.
Otherwise what happens is, after a year, something pops up, we put out a release, and you say, Well, gee, what were they thinking?¬† And it turns out we were thinking about it quite a bit.
So I think we have to look at doing things a bit differently to let people know the way the world is working and that we're addressing many of these types of things on a very active basis that people simply don't see or hear are part of those discussions.
Q.¬† Dr. Cheng, it occurs to me you're the only non‑high‑resource conference up there.¬† How have full costs of attendance affect you, can you afford it, and how will restructuring overall affect you guys.
CHANCELLOR CHENG:¬† I think that your question points to the wide diversity of membership in Division I.¬† The reason DivisionI is such a dynamic organization within NCAA is because of that diversity.
As president of the PAG group, which it represents the 22 conferences that aren't football bowl conferences.¬† We have lower budgets, we have lower resources than some of the high‑profile programs.¬† But our student‑athletes are highly valued.¬† They have wonderful experiences.¬† As you see many times, these programs can also go very deep into the tournament.¬† We are committed to keeping ourselves in this one big division because of that.
I think that's where autonomy comes in.¬† Our world is not the same in a small program than a large program.¬† We don't have the resources.¬† As long as we can know that we can be competitive in the tournament and that our athletes can have opportunities, it is appropriate I think for us to say your world is different than our world and let's make sure that our student‑athletes are appropriately supported.
We do support our athletes through graduation.¬† I was late today because I was at an honors banquet last night on my campus and I was able to shake the hands of many student‑athletes who were honored before graduation.¬† So I think that it's important for us to really realize that we need to have autonomy where it makes sense because of the different circumstances of our budgets and the size of our institutions, but that we can have a very successful student‑athlete experience at all of our institutions.
PRESIDENT EMMERT:¬† If I could, we unfortunately need to wrap this up.¬† University of Connecticut's coming on and I know you want to get an opportunity to talk with them.
But if I could leave you with really one thought, it would be simply to point out that I have been very impressed with the leadership of the association.¬† Their recognition that the vast majority of what happens in intercollegiate athletics is very, very good and provides extraordinary opportunities for young men and young women.
At the same time, there are things that need to get fixed.¬† There's some things that need to be addressed, they're working very diligently to do that.¬† They're working aggressively to do that.¬† No one up here believes that the way you fix that is by converting student‑athletes into unionized employees.¬† Everyone up here believes we need to do some things that support our student‑athletes for their success in the classroom and as they go forward in their life.¬† That's what they're trying to do.¬† It's pretty exciting and heartening to watch, frankly.
So thank you very much for being here.¬† We appreciate it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports