On August 7, the Division I Board of Directors will vote on a governance model that is expected to be a domino of change in collegiate athletics.
I have yet to speak to anyone who doesn’t believe the vote will approve a new structure allowing five conferences [Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big 12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference (SEC)] and their 65 member institutions to adopt rule changes.
It is expected that the group will act on “autonomous” legislation primarily surrounding resources to benefit student-athletes and well-being issues. The new structure is expected to be fully implemented in time for proposals to be considered during the 2015-16 legislative cycle and as early as January, 2015, we could see conferences voting on rule changes. That means we will see change and we will see it quickly.
In addition to the autonomy system that will directly impact West Virginia University, the new model considerably alters the governance structure that previously existed in the NCAA’s legislative cycle. The Division I Board of Directors (previously composed of presidents and chancellors) will begin to include a director of athletics, student-athlete, faculty athletics representative and senior woman representative, all with voting privileges. The Board will concentrate on strategic issues and oversight while shifting most of the policy and legislative responsibility to the new “Council” that will serve as a high-level decision-making body. The Council will include an athletic director, conference administrator, senior woman administrator, or faculty athletics representative from each conference in addition to two voting student-athletes, four commissioner seats and two faculty positions.
The new model will be complete with a council sub-structure, focused on academics, championships, student-athlete well-being and legislation, to replace myriad groups that existed in the previous model. All changes are intended to result in simplicity of structure and process. Clear definitions of roles, responsibilities and lines of communication among the governance structure will ensure that timely discussions are happening at the appropriate level and involving the right people.
So how are we at WVU preparing for all of these changes?
Aside from numerous discussions taking place from senior administration to the student-athletes, the Big 12 has assembled an autonomy issues group to identify concepts and legislation that we believe will enhance the well-being of student-athletes and advance educational or athletically related needs of our student-athletes.
We anticipate that autonomous legislation will be developed and adopted in the near future within the five conferences and it’s possible that it will also be applied to the rest of Division I. Our goal is to be proactive and to respect the responsibility that comes with being granted autonomy in the new governance model.
As John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Our Mountaineers won’t miss the future. Instead, we will embrace it and seek to improve our program in the midst of change.