Trustees and Presidents- Opportunities and Challenges In Intercollegiate Athletics
By Dr. Karen Weaver
Whether you are an NCAA DI, II or III program, athletics plays a pivotal role on many campuses. It is the most visible activity, and draws attention and scrutiny from the outside.
Hosted by Karen Weaver, EdD, she will walk listeners through how oversight of athletics is viewed from above and outside the athletics department. Whether a Trustee or a President; a higher education scholar, an Education reporter, or a part of an oversight agency, it promises to be an insightful conversation.
Hosted by Karen Weaver, EdD, she will walk listeners through how oversight of athletics is viewed from above and outside the athletics department. Whether a Trustee or a President; a higher education scholar, an Education reporter, or a part of an oversight agency, it promises to be an insightful conversation.
Division III Transformation and Change Ahead-A Conversation With Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano
With all the talk about Division I undergoing massive transformation, what is going in NCAA Divisions II and III? According to my guest, Chuck Mitrano, long-time commissioner of the Empire 8 Conference in New York, quite a bit. Chuck joins the conversation from two perspectives-one as a sitting commissioner, and one as a member of the NCAA Championships Committee, which provides oversight for all 28 post-season events. In both positions, he interacts with presidents and NCAA staff. We cover a wide range of topics on the future of Division III, and discuss the Empire 8's substantive proposal on mental health safety nets for athletes on campus. We also discuss what happened in January, 2022. The NCAA reverted back to the “one school, one vote” rules that were eliminated in the late 1990s, a huge opportunity to influence the direction of NCAA policy. Chuck walks us through why that happened, and in particular, the discussions surrounding increasing the amount of money DIII receives from the CBS/Turner contract (currently at 3.18%). This impacts how Division III championships are funded and managed. Chuck brings deep experience to the conversation while overseeing a conference that has as many 15 schools (full and associate members).
July 31, 2022
A New President Leads The Smallest DI Campus In The Nation
“Higher education institutions across the country are contending with significant headwinds. However, with a shared sense of purpose, a creative spirit, and sustained focus, PC can emerge stronger than ever and build a tremendous foundation for the next 140 years.” That was a part of the inauguration speech that Matthew vandenBerg gave at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina in Fall 2021. His vision for Presbyterian is slowly taking shape, but it has come with both highs and lows. Taking office in February 2021 (in the middle of the pandemic), I wanted to ask Matt to take us behind the scenes of a first time president with a terrific track record in both fundraising and friend raising at his previous stops. Like so many presidents, he was confronted by challenges from the moment he walked on campus, and, like so many times, athletics is a part of that. In our conversation, he walks us through a very delicate situation that emerged on campus in Spring 2022, when the Howard University women's lacrosse team arrived on campus and was verbally mistreated by a few members of the student population. It gravitated into a national story, and it was clearly a moment that many presidents face in putting espoused values into action. We talk about Presbyterian as a very small Division I campus, with non-scholarship football, trying to manage success and expectations for athletes, coaches and administrators in the fast changing world of NCAA Division I sports. It's a great conversation for anyone who has ever thought about becoming a small college president.
July 04, 2022
For West Coast Conference, ‘Russell Rule’ Shows Early Promise In Diversifying Athletic Departments
Two years ago, America was embroiled in racial and social justice protests, kicked off by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer. Higher education, like so many other industries, took the opportunity to look inward and ask, “how are we doing when it comes to racial and gender equity”? For the Presidents of the West Coast Conference and Commissioner Gloria Nevarez, this was a time that needed more than hand wringing and platitudes. It required the resolve to do better. One area they choose to hold themselves to a higher standard was diversifying the hiring of coaches, staff and administrators on both the campuses and in the conference office. The Russell Rule was born. I invited Nevarez and University of San Diego President James T. Harris to join me on my podcast to talk about the recently released data, measuring how effective they’ve been in matching the method to the message. (Please note that Gloria joined the podcast by phone) You can read my companion article for Forbes here.
June 19, 2022
The Incentives in College Athletics Are Backwards-Mental Health of Athletes and Staff Must Receive The Highest Priority
Over the past few months, there have been at least five high-profile student athlete suicides on campuses across the nation. It’s a frightening and sobering trend that requires colleges and universities to take a serious look at their infrastructure in place to support the mental health and wellbeing of athletes as well as the broader student population. Universities and colleges are aware that they need to continue to combat the stigma around mental health and ensure that they have the resources and professionals in place for those who need it, but post-pandemic, this is just one of many challenges vying for limited resources and attention of university leadership. Many institutions “think” they have the appropriate structure and processes in place to support student mental well-being, but do they really “know” that? Some institutions may have “deep” resources available, but students aren’t necessarily accessing them. There are creative ways to tackle this important issue and I have two guests today who are working with colleges and universities to do just that. From fully evaluating existing risk and compliance programs, to helping bring together varied student activism and grass roots initiatives, they help provide a lens to universities to clearly evaluate the issue and offer actionable solutions to formalize structures for positive behavioral interaction and support. Universities need to identify the gaps in their safety net and make sure that mental health resources are being deployed and used efficiently and effectively. Rachel Baribeau, a former sports broadcaster and founder of the movement, I’m Changing the Narrative Since 2018, Rachel has been visiting college campuses to speak with student athletes, coaches, administrators, etc., to promote the importance of mental health, leadership, self-care, domestic violence prevention, social justice, life after sports, and interpersonal relationships. As a mental health advocate, Rachel works to fight stigma and creates a willingness within the college community to build an environment that supports mental well-being through her on campus speaking engagements, and continual follow-ups with tangible materials and resources. Adrienne Larmett, senior manager in Baker Tilly’s risk advisory practice, specializing in higher education. Adrienne focuses on what steps institutions need to take to offer the resources college athletes and students need. Additionally, she assesses risk and completes regulatory assessments to ensure campuses are proactively aligning their efforts to be impactful, and in compliance. Additional resources mentioned in the podcast: IACS Standards - International Accreditation of Counseling Services (iacsinc.org) In NCAA Division I, New Data Shows Burnout Is Rampant Among Administrators Vanderbilt University Athlete 'Letter to College Sports' Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
June 08, 2022
Disruptive Thinking in the New Era of Higher Education: A Conversation With PASSHE Leaders Dan Greenstein and Cindy Shapira
Since the Great Recession of 2008-2010, enrollment in Pennsylvania's 14-campus state university system has notably changed, with some campuses growing in enrollment, and others losing students precipitously. The Commonwealth's annual system funding was recently ranked 46th out of 50 states, a dismal statistic. Yet, there are "help wanted" signs everywhere from employers who want to hire college educated employees. What gives? Pennsylvania is far from alone in facing a challenge of increasing costs and fewer graduates. Other state systems around the country are in various stages of the same existential crisis. The solution cannot be just to raise tuition and fees-national research shows student debt is averaging $30,000. To complicate things further, intercollegiate athletics plays a crucial role in attracting, retaining and engaging students on campus. Many of these campuses have highly successful NCAA Division II (and I) athletic programs, with some sports winning NCAA titles. All have loyal alumni and faculty who care deeply about good teaching. Next year, six of the 14 campuses will integrate into two entities, and will show off new names and administrative structures. No campuses were closed. The hope is these reimagined universities will be more responsive to the needs of their regional workforces and the 21st century economy, attracting a scholar and an athlete who wants a dynamic education at an affordable price. All will keep their NCAA athletic teams and identity, no small accomplishment. There are many good lessons in this conversation for other higher education system professionals and for those who work on system campuses to absorb. My guests today are two of the leaders, the CEO and the Board Chair, Daniel Greenstein and Cynthia Shapira. Dr. Greenstein is the chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. Since 2018, Dan has served as the chief executive officer of the State System (PASSHE), which operates Pennsylvania’s 14 public universities, serving nearly 100,000 degree-seeking students and thousands more enrolled in certificate and other career-development programs. The chancellor works with the Board of Governors to recommend and develop overall policies for the System. Dr. Shapira is Chair of the Board of Governors, and president of the David S. and Karen A. Shapira Foundation, leading the development and implementation of the foundation's philanthropic initiatives. She was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett to the Pennsylvania Commission on Women and served on Governor Wolf's Advisory Board on Education and Workforce Development. In 2017, she was honored as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. Dan and Cindy were recently recognized by "City and State Politics and Policy" as recipients of the 2022 Higher Education Power 100 in Pennsylvania. Mentioned in the podcast (and recommended by both Dan and Cindy): Arthur Levine's new book, The Great Upheaval: Higher Education's Past, Present, and Uncertain Future, a complimentary read for this conversation. The term used by Cindy refers to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.
May 08, 2022
What's the Deal with NIL Collectives? Mit Winter, Attorney and National NIL Expert, Provides an Inside Look
NIL Collectives have exploded in the last few months. Defined as a group of donors/boosters/fans and others who pool their money to reward a college athlete for enrolling/succeeding or transferring to your favorite school, the evolution in this area of NIL is confusing to say the least. Today on the podcast, I’m joined by an expert in this area, attorney Mit Winter. Mit is with Kennyhertz Perry in Kansas City, MO. Mit is recognized as a leading college athlete name, image, and likeness lawyer and is sought out by clients and the media for this expertise. In combination with his background as a former Division I college basketball player at the College of William and Mary, Mit is uniquely suited to assist and advise athletes, universities, and other clients with legal matters surrounding name, image, and likeness opportunities and businesses. In addition to NIL issues, Mit and I discuss the evolution of intellectual property for both the institution and the athlete, and whether the NIL deals might get so big for some athletes that they might forgo entering the pro sports landscape a bit longer (because the deals in college could be HUGE).
April 30, 2022
The Cinderella Effect on March Madness-What a Magical Run Through The Tournament Really Means For The Bottom Line
We’re coming off a spectacular 2022 season called March Madness, where all of America stops and pays attention to college basketball, whether its men’s or women’s. If we’re lucky, fans can be treated to magical moments, even magical runs where a team plays well above its tournament seeding. In 2022, Saint Peter’s University from New Jersey made one of those magical runs as the 15th seed, upsetting perennial tourney favorite Kentucky in their opening game, followed by another upset of Murray State. Almost immediately, social media and journalists crowed that these two wins would elevate Saint Peter’s financially and reputationally. Wild claims were asserted about what impact a Cinderella run might mean. Conjecture is one thing, but actual analysis and research is quite another. My guests today have done the research on the benefits of a run through the NCAA tournament, winning at least 2 games as the lower seed. They will walk us through what the statistics show, and the actual benefits of, a winning streak in the post season. This is especially important for senior campus leaders who want to separate fact from fiction. I’m joined by Drs. Kurt Rotthoff, Trevor Collier and Nancy Haskell. Dr. Rotthoff is a Professor of Economics and Finance at Seton Hall University; Dr. Collier is a Dean and Professor of Economics at the University of Dayton; and Dr. Haskell is an Assistant Professor of Economics, also at the University of Dayton. Each are co-authors in the 2020 study “The “Cinderella Effect”: The Value of Unexpected March Madness Runs as Advertising for the Schools”, published in the Journal of Sports Economics. My Forbes article on Saint Peters.
April 09, 2022
Two Former Presidents Discuss Leadership, the Presidency, and Defining A Campus Athletics Culture
Jonathan Holloway, the President at Rutgers University, recently gave a speech to the Faculty Senate at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, a member of the Big Ten Conference. The speech caught national attention when he told the group “ For too long the entire Rutgers community has been laboring under the illusion that athletics will generate enough revenue to pay for itself and, then, in time turn a profit. Let me disabuse you of that claim. While I would be thrilled if athletics were to cover all of its expenses, it is highly unlikely that it will. Only 2 percent of major college athletics programs run in the black, and not many more than that break even. The better way to think about athletics is that it represents a commitment by the university that helps tell a compelling story about this institution—one that will inspire applicants, alumni, and friends to learn more about we have to offer as a university in 2022. In this regard, the story-telling capability of athletics far outstrips any other thing that we do at Rutgers." Is that an appropriate summary of where athletics should fit into a campus? Or can we find different ways to define how athletics fits into the campus and its culture? My guests today have led three different institutions, and have written two books on leadership and the presidency: their new book is called “Leadership Matters: Confronting the Hard choices Facing Higher Education”, as well as their previous book, “How to Run a College”, both from Johns Hopkins Press. Joseph King is the past president at Lyon College (MO) and Brian Mitchell is the current president of Academic Innovators, and a past president at Bucknell University (PA) and Washington and Jefferson College (PA). They also talk frankly about future presidents and their need to be strategic when it comes to implementing change.
March 21, 2022
Holden Thorp Looks Back on UNC and The Myth of "The Carolina Way"
There are a few moments in the life of a university where an event overtakes the local and national narrative about who and what your campus represents. When the news broke in 2010 of an academic scandal on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill involving the football team, few knew that the issue would eventually expand to include over 3100 students and student-athletes taking 200 classes offered by the African and Afro-American Studies Department. Among many other outcomes, UNC Chapel Hill was put on probation by the regional accreditation association, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Several years later, both the NCAA and the SACS deferred on whether to hold the institution in violation of their bylaws. My guest today is Holden Thorp. He was the 10th Chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2008-2013. Currently, he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals since 2019. He came to Science from Washington University, where he was provost from 2013 to 2019, and where he is Rita Levi-Montalcini Distinguished University Professor and holds appointments in both chemistry and medicine. He is a venture partner at Hatteras Venture Partners, a consultant to Ancora, and is on the board of directors of PBS, the College Advising Corps, and Artizan Biosciences. He talks frankly about what presidents and trustees should know about college athletics. It's an eye opening conversation.
March 17, 2022
Now Is The Time For HBCUs To Elevate Their Brands-A Conversation With Cory Moss, CEO of Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC)
Colleges and Universities are always seeking partnerships to extend their brand via brand marks, brand identity, logos, colors, etc. All form the tool kit for Chief Marketing Officers and Athletic Departments to raise awareness. With the changes in technology, social media and the abundance of platforms today, the opportunities can overwhelm Senior Leadership teams to decide how to promote their institutions and generate revenues. Today's discussion centers on revenue possibilities for Historically Black College and Universities, commonly known as HBCUs. There are so many great things going both on and for HBCUs that this seems like the perfect moment to catch lightning in a bottle and super charge their brands. Football legend Deion Sanders is drawing attention to Jackson State University and Vice-President Kamala Harris has brought Howard University into the national discussion, just to name a few. We have the perfect person to talk about the tremendous growth opportunities in licensing HBCUs institutions today. Cory Moss is the Chief Executive Officer at CLC. Cory has more than 25 years at the company-his focus is delivering continued growth of the licensing business through meaningful connections between collegiate brands and their fans. Cory currently serves on the Board of Directors for the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation, which administers scholarships through the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He is a proud graduate of Hampton University. This is an important discussion for institutions who want to find new resources for both their students, athletes and their bottom line.
March 11, 2022
When It Comes To Big-Time College Sports, Penn State’s New President Has Walked Through The Fire Before-Two Trustees Take Us Behind The Scenes
Today, more than ever, it is crucial for colleges and universities to hire the right leaders for the right moment in time. Higher Education is facing many complex challenges, and finding the person to lead your campus through the next 5-10 years (or longer) may be one of the top responsibilities for members of Boards of Trustees. In December 2021, the Trustees announced the selection of Neeli Bendapudi, currently the President at the University of Louisville, as the next President at Penn State University. She will assume the role from Eric Barron at the end of the Spring 2022 semester. There are many good reasons why understanding how a President is selected is so important. First, those who lead the process are important fiduciaries of the University. Secondly, Penn State underwent a large, inclusive listening process involving many constituencies, including James Franklin, the head football coach. I’m joined today by two members of the Pennsylvania State University Board of Trustees, who each played important, yet different roles in the search process of locating and hiring their new President. The search culminates a months long process of the committee, search firm and other key players working collaboratively to arrive at this moment. We also talk about the new Board Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics, and the important topics they are wrestling with this year. My guests today are David Kleppinger, vice chair of the Board of Trustees (search committee co-chair) and Barbara Doran, trustee, two of the 19 Board members entrusted with this important task. The search was also aided by SpencerStuart, an executive search firm. As much as they are allowed to, they will share the process of looking for a great fit in a President. My article for Forbes expands on the conversation. (Full disclosure, I was an athletics director at Penn State Abington from 2006-2012).
March 07, 2022
Would a Version of a "Luxury Tax" Work for College Sports? What About A Model That a Rewards Investments in Athlete Health and Well-Being?
As far as Division I sports are concerned, the next few months are where the sausage gets made. Division I’s Transformation Group, led by the SEC's Greg Sankey and Ohio U's Julie Cromer, will have to get into the nitty-gritty of putting values into action, while remaining under tremendous pressure from state and federal lawmakers who are concerned that the organization can't fix itself. For several years, the Knight Commission has worked to create a sustainable and educationally focused model for Division I members to consider and perhaps adopt the C.A.R.E. model. Privately, many Division I athletics directors, commissioners and presidents agree that a change in emphasis and direction is crucial to regain the public trust. But publicly, they appear to say something else. To help us understand the nuances of this financial proposal, and why it could work to the benefit of institutions and student-athletes, I’m joined on the podcast by CEO of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Amy Perko, and Commission member and former Chief Financial Officer of Major League Baseball, Jonathan Mariner.
January 31, 2022
An Inside Look At The Partnership Between a DI Commissioner And The Presidential Board-A Primer For New College Presidents
As the NCAA concluded an historic convention this month, much uncertainty surrounds its future. There are those naysayers who believe the NCAA should be disbanded and college athletics should start over again; some believe that the NCAA should break apart into two kinds of athletic entities-one being commercialized sport, the other being educational sport. Still others believe that, besides shifting more responsibilities to the Divisions and Conferences, that Division I should break off into commercial and educational sub-divisions. As of now, the Division I Conferences have more power and influence over their future than at any other time in history. Its crucial that college presidents, trustees and senior campus leaders understand the wide-ranging perspectives when it comes to collegiate governance, as they are being asked to choose—not just this week, but in writing the divisional constitutional documents AND the compliance and enforcement that goes along with it. Fortunately, we have the perfect guest today to help us think through and understand some of these topics and more. Julie Roe Lach is the commissioner of the Horizon League, a league well known for its basketball success in recent years in the men’s and women's March Madness tournaments. She was the League's deputy commissioner since 2014, and prior to that spent 15 years at the NCAA National Office in enforcement and other legal matters. She is a trustee emeritus at Milliken University, and serves on the Board of Visitors for the Indiana University McKinney School of Law
January 24, 2022
Is Your Athletics Director Proposing To Drop Sports To Save Money? Tell Them To Listen To This Podcast Before They Take Any Actions
In 2020, Clemson University attempted to drop a bunch of sports, including men’s track and field. Minnesota did the same thing with four sports (including both indoor and outdoor track and field), and ended up dropping indoor only. Brown University also tried to drop its men’s track and field team, and then re-added… Etc. etc. Enter my guests today. Russell Dinkins, a former 400 and 800m track athlete at Princeton University, has been credited with helping restore many of the men’s track and field programs that were on the chopping block, including Clemson. He happened to have some extra time during the early phases of the pandemic after getting laid off from his job at Mathematica Policy Research. He penned a piece on Medium called “Brown University, If You Were Actually Serious About Racial Justice You Would Not Be Cutting the Men’s Track Team” that went viral. Russell spoke recently at the 2021 College Track and Field Convention about his successful argument-that dropping one of the most diverse teams on a PWI (primarily white institution) campus is the opposite of what colleges claim they stand for. He’s joined by friend of the podcast Arthur Bryant, partner in the law firm Bailey Glasser, and a legal expert in all things Title IX. Arthur and Russell have worked together to advance the narrative around DEI and Title IX in college sports.
January 22, 2022
The Great Resignation Is Real-The Coalition That Is Working To Strengthen Olympic Sports on College Campuses
College coaching has changed dramatically in the last decade. There are pressures at every level, whether it be Division III and using athletes to drive campus enrollment or Division I where the expectations to win surround a coaching staff every waking moment. But for Division I Olympic sports coaches, there is a third pressure lurking in the back of their minds—will my sport be dropped to accommodate the growing spending for football and/or the financial pressures as a result of the pandemic? College coaches are increasingly becoming fundraisers FIRST, and coaches after. Recognizing that there is great strength in banding together, the Intercollegiate Coach Association Coalition (which has a website called “Save College Sports”) launched in Spring 2020. The group is comprised of 21 different collegiate and amateur sport organizations. My guests today are two of the leaders of that coalition, Greg Earhart and Kathy DeBoer. Kathy is the Executive Director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and Greg is the Executive Director of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America. Both have worked to represent the interests of hundreds of coaches and teams. We discuss the Great Resignation, the challenges with keeping coaches and teams mentally strong, and their sports intact as the pandemic wears on.
January 13, 2022
What Options Do Senior Campus Leaders Have When It Comes to Getting Athletics Spending Under Control? A Conversation With Kevin Blue.
Spending, spending, spending. When the college sports model rewards athletics programs for acquiring more resources (while restricting paying the labor force beyond the cost of attendance), there are no guardrails. $10 million coaches are suddenly all the rage. Someone who has been thinking a lot about the necessary spending changes college athletics needs to make joins podcast. Dr. Kevin Blue, former Athletics Director at University of California-Davis, a Senior Associate Athletics Director at Stanford University, and now the Chief Sport Officer of Golf Canada. Kevin has written quite a bit about the intersection of higher ed and college athletics, mixing in his financial acumen as well as a doctorate in sport psychology. His commentary is always thought provoking, and included in his writing have been a few case studies that challenge college administrator’s thinking when confronted with difficult personnel situations. Athletic Director U has called Kevin "The Millennial AD". We discuss his suggestions for reigning in college sports spending and the real challenge that so many institutions are facing today when assessing students fees for their Division I athletics programs.
January 13, 2022
Meal Money, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan-A Conversation with the Detroit Free Press' David Jesse
Last Saturday, the college football world spun off its axis as Michigan beat Ohio State and Cincinnati broke into the College Football Playoff Top 4. Michigan's victory was the first in the Jim Harbaugh era, and launched the Wolverines into the Big Ten Championship Game. It also secured the future of Jim Harbaugh, (a true "Michigan Man"). Just how thin was the ice Harbaugh was standing on prior to Saturday? And how did the U of M President, Mark Schlissel, find himself on the "way out" a year earlier than his contract required? I visit with a terrific reporter who knows the Michigan political world and regularly reports on the ins and outs of higher education and athletics, David Jesse. David is a reporter for the Detroit Free Press. He has covered higher education in Michigan for more than a decade. He's written extensively on sexual assault on college campuses, (including at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan); higher education finance, college affordability, and small colleges that are actually growing their enrollment. He also co-authored a great piece on how meal money is spent for men and women in the Big Ten and the MAC conferences-surprise! David was a 2020-21 Spencer Fellow in Education Reporting at the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Education Writers Association named him the top education reporter in the nation in 2018.
December 03, 2021
The Growing Economic Power of Women's Sports-A Conversation with Outspoken Advocate, David Berri
Over the last 12 months or so, a great reawakening has been happening in the consciousness of sports fans. Some are just now discovering that female college and professional players can generate significant revenues for their schools/employers and themselves is growing. The television eyeballs for the recent WNBA championship series broke records–Game 2 alone averaged 789,000 viewers on ESPN. After 25 years, the game has arrived, both as a social media influencer and finally receiving some of the respect it has long been denied by broadcasters and marketers. College basketball has benefited from the same ecosystem. The 2021 Women’s Final Four championship game averaged over 4 million viewers, despite much controversy surrounding the treatment of women athletes when it came to comparing facilities and access to the men. So what will it take for college athletic departments to both accept and adjust to this new world order--that some women’s sports should be treated as substantial revenue generating sports? I have just the expert to tackle this question. David Berri is a sports economist and professor at Southern Utah University. Known by his Twitter handle @wagesofwins, David is on outspoken advocate for the underserved and underappreciated potential in women’s athletics. David is also a contributor to my new book, “Sport Finance: Where The Money Comes From And Where The Money Goes”, authoring a fantastic chapter on the comparisons between the financial growth of NBA and the WNBA.
November 05, 2021
How Do You Keep Your University Out of Legal Trouble when the Goalposts Keep Shifting?
Collegiate athletics has never seen so much change coming at them so fast. Athletic departments continue to deal with the fallout of the pandemic, the safety, mental health and wellbeing of their student athletes, conference realignment, advances in data around human performance, fiscal resiliency, and now, names, images and likenesses as well as the recent labor opinion from the General Counsel of the NLRB. Today, I want to talk about how all these changes are affecting how university leadership (including Athletic Departments) are evaluating their current policies and procedures around risk management and compliance. Simply, how do you keep the university out of trouble when the goalposts keep shifting? My guests today are two consultants from Baker Tilly, a Top 10 advisory and consulting firm that supports higher education. Dave Capitano has more than 30 years of experience working with college and university leadership and boards, is a CPA and host of the podcast, Higher Ed Advisor. He leads the firm’s higher education practice and co-leads the college sports division. Adrienne Larmett is a senior manager in the risk advisory practice, focusing on internal audit and enterprise risk management. If ever an enterprise was under great stress and risk, it is college athletics today.
October 30, 2021
Talking all things Gen Z recruitment-What Senior Campus Leaders should know about Augmented Reality
Heard of the metaverse? Want to know how to leverage this tech for recruiting Gen Z students to your campus? Then, this podcast is for you. Some of you may know that I have a deep interest in tech and media, particularly as it influences college sports. I’ve written about data privacy issues and talked with thought leaders in that space. The acceleration of change in this space can be overwhelming, but for campus senior leaders who have to manage both the financial and legal implications of allowing increasingly unique tech tools and experiences on their campuses, they need to know more. We’re in luck with our guest today. I’m joined by Kathleen Hessert. I can describe her talents this way: Strategic Communications, speaker, consultant, speech writer, social media, influencer, researcher, with a deep focus on sports, entertainment and Generation Z. Kathleen and I have known each other for some time, and when she posted an astounding video on her Linked In page involving USC Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dawn Staley using Augmented reality in a Covid-19 pitch (get your shot!), I knew we had to have a conversation on the podcast. And, by the way, Staley just signed the largest contract extension for a women's basketball coach in NCAA history, $22.4 million over 7 years. I'm also sharing a new "metaverse" video featuring Coach Staley. Click on the link and have your smartphone ready to view Dawn standing in the same space you are in! You may have heard that Facebook is moving into the metaverse. Click here to find out more. Here's the launch press release for the Covid-19 PSA Take the Shot! South Carolina Gamecocks’ Dawn Staley and Aliyah Boston Team Up With Sports Media Challenge and Avatar Dimension for New Holographic PSA to Encourage Student Action Against COVID New Holographic PSA Designed Specifically for Always Connected GenZ CHARLOTTE, N.C. and WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 22, 2021 -- It’s a battlecry for students to take action in the fight against Covid-19. Sports Media Challenge and Avatar Dimension have teamed up with Hall of Fame college basketball coach Dawn Staley and esteemed player Aliyah Boston, both of the top-ranked NCAA women’s basketball team, the South Carolina Gamecocks, in a new, state of the art holographic PSA that encourages Generation Z (Gen Z) to “take the shot” and get vaccinated. The PSA is now available to view and share on social media starting today. See new PSA here: https://sportsmediachallenge.com/gamecocks-psa/
October 22, 2021
Does The Winning Get Old? A Conversation with Title IX Attorney and a Top 100 Lawyer, Arthur H. Bryant
In the past year many Division I schools tried to drop sports. Most tried to drop men’s sports; some, like William and Mary and Stanford, dropped a large number of Olympic sports. Almost immediately, the players took to the internet, finding law firms to help them in their quest to reinstate their teams. In the past, this has been an uphill battle for the players. Athletic departments could wait out the students and alumni, hoping their initial passion and anger would subside. But this year, something different happened. More often than not, athletes and alumni have been remarkably agile in articulating their perspectives (particularly as they relate to the school’s prior and/or current Title IX compliance), and finding very capable allies waiting to help. One of those allies is Arthur Bryant. Twice named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America, Bryant has been a civil rights icon for decades. The Philadelphia native made his initial mark by winning access for girls to the previously all-male elite public high school, Central High, and he hasn’t looked back. He successfully sued Temple University in the early 1980s to improve the standing of women’s athletics, and has now successfully represented more women athletes and potential athletes in Title IX litigation against schools and universities than any lawyer in the country. He has taken on Brown University, Dartmouth College and, more recently, won reinstatement of the Dickinson College women's squash program. An important note--we take a deep look at the emerging trend of colleges trying to comply with Title IX via "Prong 3"--fully accommodating the interests of the underrepresented gender. It's an important discussion.
October 18, 2021
A Conversation with Washington Post's Ben Strauss: Should We Have The Same Athletics Association For Both Alcorn State and the University of Alabama? Not If The Media Revenues Aren't Shared Equitably.
There have been a slew of books written about the faults and foibles of college sports, some hitting very close to home as to what is really going on. Five years ago, journalists Joe Nocera (then of the NYT, now of Bloomberg) and Ben Strauss (then of the NYT, now of the Washington Post) collaborated on a look into college sports titled “Indentured: Inside the story of the rebellion against the NCAA”. It was one of the first books to reframe the narrative surrounding college sports-instead of greedy athletes who illegally sold jerseys to make some extra cash (looking at you Terrell Pryor and other OSU football players), the narrative shifted to how outlandish the athletic department, conferences and the NCAA itself was behaving with billion dollar TV contracts, multi-million coaches, ADs and conference commissioners. The new focus from journalists and academics became about how corrupt the system was. "Indentured" lands squarely in the middle of that conversation. I’m joined by Ben Strauss, co-author of Indentured, and currently a sports and media writer for the Washington Post. Ben understands the college athletics media space like few others. We discuss the challenges that Division I athletics is facing and why he is skeptical about reform, and try to answer the question "is college athletics imploding because Jim Delany retired"?
September 28, 2021
How A Bill Becomes A Law--Inside One State's NIL Process of Crafting State Legislation
As states have rushed to deal with legislation surrounding names, images and likenesses, there are a lot of folks involved to help state legislators understand the industry. Its important to state governments that they have a working partnership with higher education institutions in order to factor in their perspectives. As the NCAA’s July 1 deadline approached, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania worked to get their law in place. In fact, PA became the FIRST to allow NIL, as their law went into effect on June 30. (Cue the School House Rock classic song, "I'm just a bill") I am joined today by two Penn State University staff members who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help the Commonwealth create and pass this landmark legislation. My guests are Zach Moore and Bob Boland. Zack Moore serves as the Vice President for Government and Community Relations for Penn State, communicating to elected officials the value that Penn State provides to the people of Pennsylvania as the Commonwealth’s flagship public university. Zack came to Penn State from Washington, D.C., in 2007 with lobbying and senior legislative experience in both the U.S. House and Senate. He brings his extensive legislative, policy development, and lobbying experience to the role of chief lobbyist for his alma mater, with responsibility over federal, state, and local relations efforts. In his time with Penn State, Zack has been a passionate advocate for the value of Penn State’s land-grant mission. Bob Boland joined Penn State University as Athletics Integrity Officer in July 2017. In this role, he works to ensure the Athletics Department is meeting all University standards related to integrity, ethics, staff and student conduct and welfare, as well as NCAA and Big Ten standards. The position, the first of its kind, was created in August 2012 in an agreement with the NCAA, Big Ten and Penn State. The officeholder is charged with oversight and reporting of internal and external investigations into athletics. With that agreement expiring in August 2017, the University maintained the position as part of its own broader Athletic Integrity Program. Boland chairs the University’s Athletics Integrity Council, a group that brings together senior administrators and faculty to review matters related to athletics and reports to the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and the Board of Trustees.
September 23, 2021
Athlete Biometrics--Who Owns What? An Interview with Kristy Gale, Principal, Sports Data Strategies
If you are an avid listener to my podcast, you might remember a podcast we did about a year ago that introduced the concept of athlete biometrics and public vs private data collected from various performance software and clothing. Today, we’ll take that discussion one step further and look more deeply. My guest today is Kristy Gale, President & CEO HONOR Data Rights Management, Principal & Consultant Sports Data Strategies, Director, Institute for Biometric Data Optimization & Protection. To say she has spent the last decade of her life immersed in data rights and privacy would be an understatement. This conversation is particularly relevant to Presidents and senior campus leaders because campuses collect a lot of data on their students. In athletics, that data is sold to emerging companies anxious to get a piece of the NIL world, as well as to improve their products. Forbes companion article
September 19, 2021
Legal Considerations in the NIL era--Guidance for Senior Leaders from a former SEC General Counsel
A lot has been written about the legal challenges facing athletes in the new world of NILs--but do campus employees face legal heartburn as well? If that thought has crossed your mind, you are not alone. We are joined by former Vanderbilt University General Counsel (and current partner in Bass, Berry and Sims law firm) Audrey Anderson to discuss those issues and more. Topics include: Boosters and NIL University marks and intellectual property Coaches offering suggested NIL opportunities to athletes Sideline access for an athlete's "marketing team"
July 19, 2021
NCAA v Alston: An Interview With Two Key Behind-The-Scenes Players: Ramogi Huma and Makan Delrahim
This week, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the NCAA was in violation of antitrust laws with its rules surrounding athlete compensation, specifically around limiting athlete’s educational benefits. My guests today are two UCLA Bruins who have been working on different paths, but both played significant roles in the outcome of this case. I’m joined by Ramogi Huma and Makan Delrahim. Ramogi is the long-time Executive Director of the National College Players Association, a group that has worked for over a decade to bring the rights of college athletes to the forefront in NCAA decisions. He has tirelessly worked with state and federal legislators to bring about lasting change when it comes to athletes receiving the same rights and privileges as other students on campus, while strongly advocating for their mental and physical health and well-being. Makan Delrahim returns to the podcast as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to this, he was a United States Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice where he specialized in antitrust issues. Makan drafted the Government’s brief in NCAA v Alston, that was eventually argued at the Supreme Court by the acting Solicitor General of the United States.
June 24, 2021
As One College Rises, Another Disappears; Athletes And Coaches Are Left With Uncertainty
Delaware’s state capital, a town known more for Dover Air Force Base (AFB), the Dover 500 racetrack, and traffic jams leading to the Delaware beaches, is the setting where higher education history is about to be made. May 15th, a day that should have been filled with exuberance for seniors celebrating their big moment graduating from Wesley College, was instead, bittersweet. All knew it would be the last time any graduate would walk across the stage as a Wesley Wolverine. Next year, the rising seniors will leave as Delaware State Hornets. Two colleges located less than a mile apart will become one on July 1. Delaware State University, a 130-year-old Land Grant Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and proud owner of a successful Division I athletics program, is acquiring its neighbor to the east, Wesley College, a 148-year-old Minority Serving Institution (MSI), with a robust Division III athletics program. My guest today is Dr. Scott Gines, Vice-President and Director of Athletics at Delaware State University. Scott and I talk about the acquisition of one college by another and what that looks like in real life. We also talk about his experience working at two minority serving institutions as a white man, and his history of embracing diversity and equity at each.
May 16, 2021
How Can College Athletes Better Use Their Voices To Drive Change?
If you’ve been paying attention to college sports at all this past year, the rise in social justice activism has been unlike any other time in recent memory. As this podcast is being recorded, we are in the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of George Floyd. Along with so many other tragic deaths at the hands of police (like Breonna Taylor), there is a sense that current and future college athletes will no longer tolerate universities giving short shrift to athlete’s personal concerns over racial inequities, both on campus and in their communities. How can athletes use their voices? My guest today is Dr. Collin Williams, Jr. He is an educator, author and researcher addressing race and other diverse issues through the lens of sports. As a Senior Director, Curriculum, Collin develops, executes and expands RISE's education and leadership programs throughout the country, collaborating with internal and external partners to identify training needs and strategies. Previously, he worked in social responsibility and player programs for the NBA and as assistant director of player engagement for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Along with Dr. Ken Shropshire, Collin co-authored the book The Miseducation of the Student-Athlete: How to Fix College Sports. Collin earned his bachelor's degree in sociology and Africana studies and his doctorate in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania. College Sports Race and Equity Report Card for Black Male Athletes
April 18, 2021
Michigan's Board of Regents has faced a tumultuous year--A Conversation with Board Chair, Denise Ilitch
The week before this podcast, the University of Michigan Board of Regents were embroiled in a very public controversy with one of their own members. A Regent had publicly attacked three senior State officials, including the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. Several Regents called for the member's resignation and/or censure. It was one of several public challenges the Regents have faced in the last two years, and it all played out over Zoom. Being a board chair during a pandemic is one thing, but leading one of the most high profile university’s in the nation during a pandemic, public squabbles, a vote of no-confidence in the University President, and a U.S. Presidential election is quite another. It's important to note that the Michigan Regents operate very differently than other university trustees—they run for office, and are elected by the citizens of Michigan to eight year terms. My guest today is Denise Ilitch, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. The Board of Regents make major decisions that affect all three of the University of Michigan campuses: Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn. Amongst the many matters decided by the board are the tuition rates, approval of professorial appointments, librarians and the appointment of administrators. Needless to say, the decisions that they make have profound impact on the lives of students. She is president of Ilitch Enterprises, LLC. She previously served as President of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., a privately held business that manages such entities as Little Caesar Enterprises, The Detroit Red Wings, The Detroit Tigers, and Olympia entertainment. She is a proud first generation student and a graduate of the University of Michigan.
April 13, 2021
A College President's Guide to the Issues-NCAA v Alston
A perfect podcast for senior leaders trying to understand the NCAA legal issues in play in the Supreme Court. My guest is an expert in sports law, particularly in the issues the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard in the NCAA v Alston case, Gabe Feldman. Gabe is the director of the Tulane Sports Law Program and Tulane University's associate provost for NCAA compliance. He is one of the leading voices in the country in the growing field of sports law. I highly recommend his podcast "Between The Lines: A Podcast About Sports and the Law". Named the Paul and Abram B. Barron Associate Professor of Law in 2015, he also is co-founder and co-director of the Tulane Center for Sport. Feldman is editor of The Sports Lawyers Journal, a law journal devoted to the study of sports law, and The Sports Lawyer, a monthly online newsletter. He is a consultant to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. We lead off with the definition of who is the "consumer" of NCAA athletics.
March 31, 2021
This Trend Accelerated The Financial Crisis for Higher Education and Athletics
There has been a narrative for quite sometime about campus building and amenities—you know, lazy rivers, climbing walls, fancy cafeterias…the whole 9 yards. I could talk a lot about the amenities boom on the athletics side of campus—the Athlete Villages and gated communities built just for revenue producing athletes. But, this podcast goes deeper than that. My guest today is Karin Fischer, senior writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Along with Lindsay Ellis, she wrote a fascinating article called The Heavy Cost of an Empty Campus. They dove into the fast changing state funding landscape in places like Kansas and Oregon, and how higher education leaders chose to react. From a 2021 vantage point, it looks like the financial model based on the presence of students on-campus full-time is flailing and failing. And Kansas' attempts to remain relevant to students who want to attend a campus with a big time athletics program fell flat in March when Head Football Coach Les Miles and Athletics Director Jeff Long both left town with multi-million dollar payouts. Debt service, debt, fewer full pay students on campus, and an athletics department in free-fall. Is student consumerism the answer? They wrote: "Administrators also hoped a sweeping campus renovation, including a state-of-the-art science building, modern student apartments, and a new student union, would boost the university’s appeal. The two efforts, in fact, were mutually dependent — college officials were counting on international students to help fund the Central District, as the multimillion-dollar construction project was known. They would borrow to erect the buildings and use foreign-student revenues to pay their creditors.” Then the pandemic hit, and combined with the Trump administration’s emphasis on limiting immigration, the number of international students attending top universities has dropped precipitously as well. Student revenue — revenue frequently tied to students’ physical presence on campus — keeps the lights on. Enter P3 Consumerism--Public Private Partnerships.
March 31, 2021
March Madness Inequities--Almost 50 Years After Title IX, Why Are We Still Struggling With Equity?
The outcry was fierce and nearly universal. Women's basketball teams arriving on site in San Antonio to compete for the 2021 NCAA Division I title were appalled at the so called "strength facilities" available to them as compared to the men,--a few yoga mats and dumbbells. The NCAA site management staff quickly responded and attempted to correct the obvious error, but by then, the floodgates opened on further inequities --food availability, a lack of custom floors dedicated to the tournament, and the most galling--a lack of transparency around whether women can use the trademarked phrase "March Madness" to describe their 3 week tournament. My guest today is Valerie Bonnette. She is one of the leading experts in Title IX compliance in the United States. After spending 15 years in the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, she launched her company Title IX Specialists in the 1990s. While at OCR, she conducted federal investigations of complaints alleging sex discrimination in athletics programs, provided technical assistance to national and regional athletics organizations, and provided on-site technical assistance to individual institutions. Just last month, she released her most recent edition of her well-regarded handbook “The 2020 (Updated) Manual – “Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics: How It All Works – In Plain English” .
March 25, 2021
The Institutional Strategy Behind NKU's Ascent to Division I Athletics
When Universities decide to “re-classify” their institution’s athletics program, it is a big deal. I’m joined by two higher education leaders who led their institution, Northern Kentucky University, from NCAA Division II to Division I. Dr. Jim Votruba was the President at NKU from 1997-2012, and recently retired from the NKU faculty after 8 years. Dr. Katie Herschede is currently the Vice President and Chief of Staff at Widener University; prior to that, she was the Chief of Staff and Board Secretary at Northern Kentucky University. What started as an idea to add football to a Division II athletics program, evolved instead into a move to Division I AND an invitation to join a strong basketball conference, the Horizon League. Dr. Votruba and Dr. Herschede discuss the transformation from both the Trustee and Presidential perspectives.
March 23, 2021
Head's Up: Concussions and 'Return To Play' Protocols Present Serious Risk Management Issues for Senior Leaders
Today I’m joined by Dr. Christine Baugh, an assistant professor in the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Center for Bioethics and Humanities. Christine’s work focuses on acute and chronic health implications of repetitive brain injury from sport, and the resultant individual, institutional, policy and ethical considerations. She was named a Forbes “30 under 30” in sports, and also studies risk, decision making and morality in sports. I wanted to talk with Christine about concussions, CTE and "return to play" protocols. At the very least, it is an institutional risk management issue; but at its very core, it speaks to the care and concern we have for the students who come to our campuses. Next time you watch a game, pay close attention to how many times decisions are made about whether an athlete can "return to play"...it might be one of the most important decisions we make on behalf of our students.
March 16, 2021
This influential faculty member at the US Naval Academy can speak to the the Vice-Admiral with a mere moment's notice
The United States Military Academies play an important role in developing future leaders. All five of the Academies offer competitive athletic programs. As academic excellence is a cornerstone for each one, I wanted to understand how the Faculty Athletics Representative functions inside the military chain of command. This FAR can walk into the Vice-Admiral's Office (aka the Superintendent) at the Naval Academy whenever she has an academic concern. My guest is Dr. Christine Copper, a professor of chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy. In addition to representing the Naval Academy as its FAR since 2008, she was also the first-ever FAR on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. She co-chaired the NCAA working group on Values-Based Revenue Distribution that brought historic change to the NCAA’s financial distribution model by including academic incentives for the first time ever. She is also is the past President of the Faculty Athletics Representative Association. She was appointed to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in 2018, and to date, is the only FAR to serve on that board. Read my article about why Cadets at the Military Academies will be prohibited from monetizing their NILs, no matter what the states decide.
March 11, 2021
The Women's Collegiate Coaching Pipeline is Collapsing
Take a look at pictures of the coaches in your athletics program. How many men do you see? How many women? How many people of color? Have you ever asked your athletics director how he/she works to make the staffs more reflective of the athletes in the program? We're joined by a researcher who thinks deeply about this issue, with a particular emphasis on recruiting and retaining women in college coaching. I’m joined by Dr. Nicole LaVoi. Nicole is the Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, and, in a previous life, a head women’s tennis coach and a member of a Division III NCAA Tennis team championship. She earned both her master’s and PhD from Minnesota, so that makes her a “double Gopher”. Nicole also serves on the Board of Directors for WeCOACH, espnW (college committee), and the Sports Advisory Network for the Women’s Sport Foundation. Her seminal research includes the annual Women in College Coaching Report Card™ which is aimed at retaining and increasing the number of women in the coaching profession.
March 04, 2021
Legalized Gambling on Regular Season College Games is Coming--What Every College Leader Needs To Know
I will freely admit I am not a gambler—I’ve spent very little time in my life inside casinos and have only a tangential relationship with understanding the odds in sports betting. So, like any other student, I need to learn more about this industry and its looming impact on college sports. I invited the best expert I know to enlighten all of us. Robert Ambrose is a casino/hospitality consultant, university instructor, and freelance writer. A former Vice President of Gaming Operations for the Gomes and Cordish Co., Bob was a key member for casino development projects in several states. Prior, he was Executive Director of Slot Services at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. He has published articles in trade publications such as: Casino Life and Global Gaming Business. And he is on the editorial board of the newly launched academic journal on Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism. This is an important conversation if you want to understand what options college leaders have if they suspect they have gambling issues within their athletics program.
February 25, 2021
Understanding Why College Athletics and Antitrust Law Keep Colliding-Makan Delrahim, former DOJ antitrust attorney
Just prior to his January departure, Makan Delrahim put the finishing touches on the Antitrust Division’s opinion in the Alston v NCAA case and sent it to the Solicitor General. According to the former Department of Justice antitrust lawyer, the NCAA is approaching uncharted territory in antitrust law, and is looking for the Supreme Court and/or Congress to throw them a lifeline. Makan joined me for a wide-ranging, insightful conversation about the pressure the NCAA is facing in 2021. He is a remarkable teacher, and explains in plain English for senior leaders why the NCAA is running afoul of Federal law. After departing the Department of Justice in January 2021, Makan has been in high demand. I am thrilled that he was able to join me for this important discussion.
February 20, 2021
Life on a Big Time Basketball Campus--A Conversation with Larry Moneta, former VP of Student Affairs at Duke University
Duke's Krzyzewskiville--The Most Famous On-Campus Pre-Game Housing In America Duke is famous for “Krzyzewskiville”, where students are known to literally camp out overnight for tickets, all the while to create a frenetic home court advantage for men’s basketball. It's a major part of campus life in Durham, North Carolina. But there are more intricate details that go into navigating the balancing act between student life and big time college sports, and there is where we will begin our conversation today. My guest is Dr. Larry Moneta, long-time Vice President for Student Affairs at Duke University, who retired in 2019. Moneta oversaw campus housing and campus life on one of the most iconic college campuses in America. We talk about the differences between "regular student housing" and "athlete housing" at Duke (surprises here, for sure), making 21st century residence halls social spaces, creating community with designs aimed at students "bumping" into one another. We also discuss the emergence of social media influencers on campus, what the new NCAA Names, Images and Likenesses legislation might mean for athletes who live in residence halls, and the visible role that athletes can play when social and racial justice issues arise on campus.
January 31, 2021
FOIA, FOIA, FOIA...the Explosion of Independent Investigative Journalism in College Sports
Welcome! Today's podcast will discuss the explosion of journalism focused on college sports, and in particular, the incredible work being done by independent writers in this space. For many, this is a labor of love; for some lucky ones, they are able to make a living out of their entrepreneurial efforts. Subscriptions prices range from free, all the way up to $9 or $10/month. promising to deliver unique, well researched content to the sports industry. My guest today is Andy Wittry, writer and editor of the newsletter “Out of Bounds”. I have been following Andy’s detailed work for as long as its been available and am intrigued by his unique writing style and the kinds of journalistic rabbit holes he finds himself in. He works for Turner Sports as a men's basketball reporter alongside his weekly newsletter. His work has previously been published at Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Stadium, the IndyStar, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and AthleticDirectorU. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism. This podcast is particularly helpful for those who aren't aware of the explosion of FOIA requests being made of college athletic programs (Freedom of Information Act). These requests are driving new conversations about college athletics and should be on the radar of senior leaders, particularly at public universities. The definition of FOIA: "The basic function of the Freedom of Information Act is to ensure informed citizens, vital to the functioning of a democratic society."
January 19, 2021
The Paris Olympic Games in 2024 will look very different-how will that impact Collegiate Olympic Sports?
Welcome to 2021! The Olympic program in 2024 is going to look very different. Of the 32 sports on the Olympic program, only 16 - (exactly HALF) of the 2024 Olympic sports - correlate with an NCAA-sanctioned national championships: athletics (track and field), rowing, basketball, fencing, football (soccer), golf, gymnastics, field hockey, wrestling, water sports, equestrian sports, tennis, shooting, triathlon, sailing, and volleyball. Many of these sports have a men's and women's component, which for traditionalists, is a sigh of relief. But the addition of sports like breakdancing, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing, the IOC is certainly trending towards a younger demographic that has no American collegiate tie in. My guest is Dr. Steve Dittmore, Assistant Dean for Outreach and Innovation at the University of Arkansas. Prior to entering higher education, Steve worked for over 10 years in sport public relations and worked at two Olympic Games (Atlanta 1996 and Salt Lake City 2002), He also worked three U.S. Olympic Festivals, a Pan American Games, an NCAA Final Four, and countless professional, collegiate, and international sporting events. Steve and I discuss the obligation that Power 5 Conferences have to maintain their athletic status in Division I--in addition to supporting a competitive football and men's basketball programs that drives revenue, NCAA Bylaws require they provide scholarships and funding for 14 additional sports, nearly all of whom do not make money. We discuss whether the confluence of severe economic distress from the pandemic, alongside the International Olympic Committee's trend to move away from traditional American sports offerings (as they have with baseball and softball), might offer insight into an emerging trend in college sports.
January 17, 2021
Disruption-The 2020 Review of College Athletics
Former college President and occasional guest host Scott Flanagan joins me for a look back at the most remarkable year in college sports history. We talk about Presidential decisions to close campuses and what has changed in letting administrators think they couldn't play basketball in March, but they could play football in September. We talk about attempts at Division I reform and why certain Power 5 conference commissioners are so resistant to any change in the College Football Playoff structure. (looking at you, Greg Sankey). And we'll wrap up with each of our thoughts on what to look for in 2021. Thanks to all the loyal listeners that have found this podcast in January 2020. What started as a project about college athletics morphed into a diary of how this $4 billion a year industry has responded to a once in a century pandemic. We are working on new projects already for 2021, and if you haven’t already, check out my columns for Forbes.com that expand on these issues in more detail. Happy Holidays to you and your family.
December 15, 2020
If colleges keep dropping Olympic sports, what happens to the US Olympic teams' chances?
Ahead of a 60 minutes segment on the future of Olympic sports scheduled for Sunday December 6, I talked with KYW Radio's Matt Leon about what Olympic sports bring to college athletic programs. As a former field hockey coach (a sport the US has struggled to be competitive internationally in), I know what a big stage having your sport in the Olympic Games can mean. Will colleges continue to be a pipeline for future Olympians?
December 04, 2020
Higher Education's Complicity in the Youth Sports Industrial Complex--A Conversation with Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Project Play
I’m joined today by Tom Farrey, Executive Director of the Sports and Society Program. He is best known for his work on college and youth sports reform, with The Nation writing that Tom “has done more than any reporter in the country to educate all of us about the professionalization of youth sports.” While college presidents may have a deep understanding of enrollment management and the importance of retaining and graduating regular students, many have expressed surprise when they learn how the athletic recruiting pipeline works. The pressure on young athletes to perform at a high level throughout their high school and/or club careers is real and intense, for both the child and their parents. The financial pressure to spend money in travel and tournament costs just to be "seen" by college coaches can approach thousands of dollars annually for families, money that could be used to pay for a college education. Higher education’s complicity in blindly ignoring that youth sports is out of whack with educational priorities, (and disproportionately benefits wealthy children and families) must be acknowledged and addressed by senior leaders in our industry. Since 2011, the Sports and Society Program has brought together leaders, facilitated dialogue, and inspired solution to help sport serve the public interest. The group works with many of the largest sport organizations in America. Their signature program is Project Play, which helps build diverse, healthy communities.
November 19, 2020
So You Think You Want to be a College President (During A Pandemic and with Airline Layoffs)
Let me introduce you to Vaughn College (NY). It is a unique place to be a college athlete, because one of its main academic majors is aviation. And as you may know, the airlines have been deeply impacted by the current recession. My guest is Dr. Sharon DeVivo, the President of Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, and their first female president. Vaughn is located in Flushing, NY, a stone’s throw from LaGuardia Airport. Our conversation covers a review of a very different pandemic landscape at a four year college that produces the human capital of the airline industry. Many students come from families living in one of the five Boroughs of New York City, and where one wage earner has lost their job. When you look at the airline industry right now, 30,000 airline employees were laid off in October alone. We discuss the tension that creates on campus for faculty, staff and athletic coaches to keep students engaged, while maintaining some semblance of an athletic season and academic progress. Vaughn proudly states “We were ranked #1 in the nation in upward mobility in a study published in The New York Times and were the best at helping students move from the lower income brackets to the top.” And their athletic program is like an NCAA DIII program, except it's not. A deeper look at a most unusual college at a most unusual time. (and we do alot of laughing).
November 12, 2020
Dropping Olympic Sports, Conference TV revenues and Stressed Athletics Budgets--A Look at Fall 2020 So Far
I was invited to join the Athletic Business podcast to talk about athletics business-go figure. We discuss about the state of the Big Ten, of Olympic Sports survival, conference realignment possibilities, including blowing up the traditional conference model completely. We also discuss the impact that flying is having on college athletics, including whether fans can travel to their favorite college towns via regional airports. The pandemic's impact on college sports and the airline industry cannot be overstated. Indeed, when we had the massive reorganization of Division I schools 10 years ago, it was assumed there would be plentiful, cheap, regional flights available. Delta Air Lines Inc, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian told his employees, “We should be prepared for a choppy, sluggish recovery even after the virus is contained, I estimate the recovery period could take two to three years.” That's a long time for college sports fans to wait, and for athletic administrators who want to get their teams to and from competitions efficiently.
November 09, 2020
Navigating The Economic, Cultural, Structural And Regulatory Pressures that Surround Higher Education And College Athletics
So much of what we have talked about (and who we have talked with) involves leadership. Whether it’s in the President’s Office, as a Board member, as a higher ed scholar, or heading up a national education association, navigating the headwinds and occasional rough waters are a part of the job. My guest today studies higher education and athletic leadership. Dr. Jennifer Lee Hoffman is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington, where she heads up the Center for Leadership in Athletics. She recently published a book called “College Sports and Institutional Values in Competition”. We discussed the disconnect between college's recognition of promoting and rewarding student "volunteerism" and athletic department's discouragement (and, at times, outright banning) of athlete activism. It's worth exploring the dissonance that college athletes feel on this and other topics, and we do in this podcast. We also talked about the tension that exists in the environment around an institution—economics, cultural, structural and regulatory, all demonstrating that having strong internal leadership over athletics is critical to navigating these competing forces. Dr. Hoffman writes, "Meaningful change will not come until we first understand the ways in which athletics are deeply embedded in higher education.” This podcast gets us started down that path.
November 01, 2020
Alaska's University System Faces Drastic Financial Cuts, And Not Just From Covid-19 - A Conversation with former President James Johnsen
What's it like to lead a University in the middle of a pandemic? Add cuts to state funding and declining enrollment, and you'll get a taste of the challenges my guest has faced. State governments, and state universities are under tremendous financial pressures, causing Presidents in the most recent ACE survey of College Presidents to express their concerns that the “long term financial viability” of the school has risen to their number 2 concern, behind student, faculty and staff mental health concerns. My guest today is Dr. James Johnsen, former President of the University of Alaska System (UA) from 2015-2020, where he led the system through a historically challenging period marked by severe cuts in state funding, declining enrollment, and the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley and has completed specialized training in negotiation and leadership at Harvard and finance at Northwestern. He earned his EdD from the University of Pennsylvania. Interestingly enough, Alaska announced they were dropping three Division II sports in September 2020-ice hockey, gymnastics and alpine skiing. But, unlike the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota, they threw a lifeline to those teams--if they could fundraise two years of operating expenses, the sports would be reinstated. A great conversation about finances, gold and oil and their impact on state revenues, and making difficult choices to remake higher education in Alaska.
October 27, 2020
Presidential Support From A Division I Athletics Director's Perspective-What works and what doesn't
Those who have been listening to the podcast for awhile now know that I have interviewed very few people who work inside an athletics department. I do this because there is a gap in our knowledge and understanding of all the different stakeholders whose work is impacted by athletics, and who work in other parts of the university ecosystem. Setting that principle aside for this week..... I'm joined by a former 2x Division I Athletics Director at the Group of 5 and Power 5 level, Dr. Brad Bates. Brad was the Athletics Director at Miami University of Ohio, and Boston College; he was also a Senior Associate AD at Vanderbilt. Today, he is Vice President at Collegiate Sports Associates. I wanted to talk with Brad about how Presidents and Trustees can effectively come along side of athletics directors in dealing with difficult, public facing issues, and when, perhaps, they should not interfere. I think it is important for senior leaders to hear from those who have been in the trenches to know if the support provided is adequate and appropriate. Also, Brad and his colleague, Jason Belzer, prepared a very detailed case study on the dynamics of a search committee trying to hire a revenue sport coach in men's basketball. It is a fascinating look at the politics and personalities that can influence who gets the job. Case Study on how to hire a men's basketball coach
October 20, 2020
What Does College Athletics Look Like in 2021?
What questions are facing higher education leaders as they begin to think about college athletics in 2021? How comfortable are we with the optics of playing college football this fall? How does it reflect on all of higher education? Are the discussions around creating a "basketball bubble" appropriate if athlete health and welfare is considered important? How can we have fans in the stands, and at the same time, no students on campus? Why NOW is the time to be inclusive when it comes to athlete's voices. Senior leaders in higher education need more opportunities to discuss and debate these important issues with other leaders and informed by the research. I joined the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in September 2020 to create content that builds on this webinar. Listen carefully, and I'll tell you more about the work that lies ahead.
October 05, 2020
Who Decides Whether A College Survives Or Dies? In Part, the Accreditation Agency It Belongs To
One of the most important things for a college to have is a seal of approval from an outside agency. This agency certifies on a regular basis that, among other things, the college is worthy of Federal Funds, is meeting academic standards, managing its finances appropriately and transparently, and is providing a quality experience for its students. This agency is often called an accreditation organization. My guest today, Dr. Larry Schall, is the newly installed President of the New England Commission of Higher Education. Larry and I will discuss the role that accreditation plays in not only colleges staying open, but also the unenviable ending of a college closing. But we won’t stop there. Larry was President for 15 years at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA, and VP of Administration at Swarthmore College before that. He has spent a long career in Division III, and also served on the Southern Athletic Association’s Presidents Commission during the past spring of Covid sports closures. More info about NECHE: link
September 23, 2020
Who's In Charge In The Big Ten? Why The 1990 Decision To Add Penn State Might Give Us A Clue
The Roots of the Big Ten's Disconnectedness Go Back 30 Years. When the Big Ten Conference added Penn State University in 1990, ADs jumped up and down screaming that the Presidents had made a decision without their input. Back then, the Athletic Directors ran the conference, and could not have imagined the Presidents even cared about how the Conference was run. Later, this was an early signal that the NCAA would eventually designate Presidents as the decision makers in college sports, Powerful coaches like Bo Schembechler of Michigan and Bobby Knight at Indiana weighed in publicly at the time as to (in their view), the insanity of the President's recommendation. (Sound familiar, Ryan Day, current OSU football coach?) Over 8 months, the question loomed--would the "Council of Ten" Presidents hold firm, or would they buckle under the pressure from the powerful coaches? There are parallels with the struggles as to "who's in charge" that are relevant today. Who makes the decision if/when they return to play? Is it the: Coaches? Athletic Directors? Medical Doctors" The Players? Kevin Warren, the Big Ten Commissioner? The Local Politicians? The State Health Board? Or the Presidents? I’m joined today by columnist David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News. David has covered Penn State basketball for 28 seasons and Penn State football for 27, first as the beat writer and, since 2002, as a columnist. He is a multi award winning journalist; a past president of the FWAA and was inducted into the USBWA HOF in 2018. David wrote an insightful article looking back at the political battles waged in getting Penn State into the Conference, and we discuss why they apply to today's landscape. We'll discuss and debate the critical issues and talk about the role of Kevin Warren, the new Commissioner of the Big Ten.
September 13, 2020
A Senior Leader's Guide To Navigating Names, Images and Likenesses Quagmire-A Former Chair of the NCAA Presidents' Council Clarifies The Complexities
"This may be the most significant development for athlete's economic rights in our lifetime"- Walt Harrison, former chair of the NCAA President's Council. Your athletic program is about to look very different. Simply put, some of your athletes on campus are about to elevate their brand (and their income) while playing for your school. What that will look like is being hotly debated right now, with many groups weighing in (including asking for Congressional intervention). College Athletics at all levels will soon look very different once "Names, Images and Likenesses" is fully implemented nationwide. Affecting all NCAA and NAIA divisions, it's important for those who aspire to be a campus senior leader to understand what this means, how this works, and the massive compliance issues at play. My guest today will walk us through the issues, the need for external oversight, and the position of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a long time advocate for academic changes and fiscal responsibility. Joining our conversation, and representing the KCIA, is President Emeritus of the University of Hartford, Dr. Walter Harrison. Many of my listeners know this topic has been quite controversial. In Fall of 2019, California became the first state to pass legislation to permit college athletes to get “paid” (if you will) for their brand on social media platforms, teaching sport skills, and other things that regular college students were permitted to do. Now, the NCAA is “on the clock”, and is under great pressure to design a solution that doesn’t create a “pay for play” recruiting situation. It is a challenging proposition. How will your school adapt? Here are the 5 basic principles of fairness as proposed by the Knight Commission, and referenced in the discussion: 1. Fairness to Athletes as Students 2. Informing Athletes on NIL Rights 3. Oversight of NIL Rights 4. Guardrails for NIL Rights 5. National uniformity. Beginning on September 16, the KCIA will host a series of four virtual forums titled "Transforming the Division I Model". Registration is now open. Full disclosure: I served as a researcher to the KCIA this summer.
September 10, 2020
The Role Of College Trustees In Making Athletics Decisions: The Synergy Between Boards and Presidents
A conversation exploring college athletics not from the court, field, or locker room…but from the board room. From the White House to the Big House and everywhere in between, there’s a remarkable amount of chatter about the decisions being made and those making the decisions. But for all we hear about and chancellors, athletics directors and commissioners, there’s one group we don’t hear much about: trustees. Guest host Scott Flanagan talks with Peter Eckel, Ed. D to explore the appropriate role for trustees in decision making around intercollegiate athletics. This conversation approaches intercollegiate athletics through a different lens…one that isn’t about wins and losses, TV contracts, business models, or enrollment goals. We explore the unique and important role trustees can play in asking the right questions, putting intercollegiate athletics in a broader context, and supporting leaders during this unprecedented time of extended stress. Peter is a long-time researcher and practitioner of university governance. He currently serves the co-director of the Penn Project on University Governance, has directly advanced trusteeship through his work at the Association of Governing Boards, and is a noted author whose most recent work (Practical Wisdom: Thinking Differently about College and University Governance, co-authored with Cathy Trower) reframes the work of board leadership. An important conversation for those who want to understand the role that Boards should and should not play in athletics decisions.
September 03, 2020
Division III Conference Was Confident Their Return to Campus Plans Were Sound- Then The NCAA Stepped In
The American Rivers Conference (ARC) was set. The President's Council had been meeting throughout the summer, tracking localized Covid-19 trends, and ensuring their safety protocols were in place. Then, in mid August, the NCAA came out with updated "Resocialization Guidelines", and announcing that fall Division III NCAA championships were cancelled. Despite their careful planning, the decision was taken out of their hands by the NCAA. What is interesting about this decision is that the NCAA did NOT do this for NCAA Division I; in fact, the confusion that exists between the Power 5 conferences about playing football and other fall sports, might have been eliminated had the NCAA been consistent. Instead, the NCAA took away the prerogative promised earlier to the Division III Conferences. My conversation with Darrin Good, President at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska takes the listener through the decisions the Conference made, and their shock in discovering that the NCAA would suddenly take the decision out of their hands late in the summer. Dr. Good told Omaha.com: ""We are extremely disappointed that our football, volleyball and men's and women's soccer teams will not compete this fall," Nebraska Wesleyan President Darrin Good said. "Nebraska Wesleyan, along with the other eight American Rivers Conference schools, have worked tirelessly for the past several months to plan and implement the necessary protocols that would create a safe environment for our fall sports' student-athletes, and we were confident in our protocols." Good pointed out that the ARC was the last of 44 NCAA Division III conferences to postpone fall sports. **NOTE--Nebraska Wesleyan won their most recent National Championship in 2018...congratulations!
August 28, 2020
A 3 Time Division I College President Weighs In On NCAA Reform Efforts-A Conversation with Nancy Zimpher, Ph.D
The NCAA is failing college football. In August 2020, college sports leaders witnessed the limits of the power that NCAA President Mark Emmert has to control the five most visible Conferences--the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the SEC. In the span of 24 hours, two conferences announced they were not going to play their fall sports schedules-the Big Ten and the Pac-12. As of the mid-August, the ACC, the Big 12 and the SEC have continued to operate as if they are planning to play their fall schedules. I invited Nancy Zimpher to the podcast to talk about where we are in NCAA Division I athletics today. Nancy has been the Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, President of the University of Cincinnati, and the Chancellor of the SUNY (State Universities of New York) System. She has served on the NCAA Board of Governors, and is currently a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. She chairs the Governance subcommittee for the Knight Commission, which is currently examining proposals for new models for Division I college athletics. She and her colleague at the Knight Commission, former MLB CFO Jonathan Mariner, co-authored an article for MarketWatch about the challenges facing big time college sports and the revenue crisis facing the Power 5 conferences. Nancy is currently leading an institute through the Association of Governing Boards that develops new college Presidents. This is a fascinating conversation about what the challenges and opportunities are, and the important role that Presidents have in leading change.
August 19, 2020
The Pandemic Will Drive Down Media Revenues: What Does That Mean For Big Ten And Pac-12 In 2020?
It seems like everyone is talking about money--the money made in college sports in general, and the money that may be lost as a result of this pandemic. With fall football being cancelled in both the Big Ten and the Pac-12, I reached out to Patrick Crakes, currently of Crakes Media Co, and a former Senior Vice President of FOX Sports Media Group who oversaw Programming, Research and Content Strategy. I asked him to comment about the current state of finances of college sports media, and which of the two conferences- the Big Ten and the Pac 12, were likely to see some form of media revenue reductions from their distribution partners, advertisers and contractual obligations. If you're interested in who's getting paid and who's not (and how that decision gets made), this is the podcast for you. I also covered this conversation for Forbes.com this week.
August 15, 2020
President to President--A Conversation About Playing Football in 2020
This conversation may surprise you. And it might give you insight into why some schools ARE playing sports this fall. Following weeks of announcements from conferences across the nation postponing fall competitions until next spring, the NCAA recently announced that they would not hold championships for Division II or Division III for fall sports; around the same time, the NAIA did the same. Shortly thereafter the Mid-American Conference and the Mountain West postponed all fall sports, followed in quick succession by the Big Ten and Pac 12. In today’s podcast, guest host and former college President Scott Flanagan has a conversation with David Armstrong, President at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, FL. An NAIA institution heading into just its second football season, St. Thomas is heading into fall sports full speed ahead. Armstrong shares his perspective on the role athletics plays for a campus and for its students, how he views the issue of safety for student-athletes, the role that finances play in understanding different decisions made by different conferences and institutions…and why he is comfortable with and confident in the approach his university and conference are taking. This podcast strives to present balanced perspectives on the issues facing college sports-including whether they should be played in Fall 2020.
August 12, 2020
Mid-Summer Break--What Sports Could Be Played In The Coronavirus Era?
To lighten it up a bit (and hopefully make you smile), I'm joined by my colleague Ross Aikins to do some sports bantering. Ross (who is a public health scholar who loves sports) and I (on a steep learning curve about public health issues) have created a highly sophisticated system of ranking the 27 NCAA sports and the chances they will (or should) play in 2020-21. (HA!) RED: No way the sport should get anywhere near the field/court/pool YELLOW: With modifications GREEN: Go for it. After this podcast, I will be taking August off. I'll be back with Season 2 in September.
July 31, 2020
"The Summer Melt Could Turn Into A Summer Avalanche"
The number of college conferences that have suspended, modified or cancelled Fall sports in mind numbing. Presidents and Commissioners have had to make tremendously difficult decisions--the cancelling of a fall season could mean those athletes don't return to campus. The Northeastern, MidAtlantic and Midwestern portions of the country are packed with small colleges (mostly private), whose primary sources of revenue are the tuition dollars paid by their students. While all understand the complexities of playing team sports in a Covid-19 era, it's still a personal loss for every one of those students. How many of those athletes will chose to continue their studies? How many will stop out and take a "gap" year? My conversation with KYW Radio's Matt Leon talks about the July 2020 landscape for all of college sports.
July 30, 2020
"College Athletes Bill of Rights" --A Conversation With Kendall Spencer, former National Chair of SAAC
In July 2020, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing called "Protecting the Integrity of College Athletics". Led by Senators Blumenthal, Graham and Booker, the Committee announced their intent to create a "College Athletes Bill of Rights" tied to a reform agenda with Names, Images and Likenesses legislation. The Bill of Rights includes: · Empowers and protects economic rights of athletes; · Allows athletes to market their NIL individually and in group licenses; · Ensure athletes can negotiate revenue sharing agreements with athletic associations, conferences and schools; · Empower and protect an athlete’s rights to an education; enable them beyond their academic and athletic career, guarantee lifetime scholarships; · Create and empower transparency, and give the athletes the right to hold accountable their schools; · Create an oversight panel for the regulation of agents and third-party NIL deals, making sure they have a real voice; · Protect the health and wellbeing of college athletes; unacceptable that there is no standardized injury reporting process (including concussions). Joining me to talk about this issue is Kendall Spencer, former chair of the National Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). Kendall is a recent graduate of Georgetown Law, and hopes to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic games. Kendall and I discuss the increasing activism of college athletes and how they can collectively use their voices to affect change that levels the playing field for athletes.
July 29, 2020
The Pac-12 Conference Is An Elite Athletic Conference-Why Do They Struggle Earning Sports Media Revenues?
In July, Stanford announced they were dropping 11 Olympic sports, going from 36 to 25 total sports. The Cardinal are the most successful overall Division I athletics program in the last 20 years, yet they have been struggling with keeping up financially with other Power 5 Conferences. The big question is why, and we'll try to answer that today. My guest today is Jon Wilner, the Pac-12 beat reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, and expert on Pac-12 media revenues. Jon will walk us through how the Pac-12 media contracts are structured and why the Conference crafted a different direction than other conference networks. The decision has, so far, not been a good one for the schools, as their revenues are lagging far behind their Big Ten and SEC counterparts. This podcast will help you understand how the college sports media landscape works.
July 28, 2020
Small Private Colleges Are Facing Serious Enrollment Challenges in Fall 2020, Especially With Athletic Conferences Canceling Fall Sports
Division II and III athletic conferences have been discontinuing fall sports at a record pace this month. It is devastating for athletes, and for campus budgets. Many private colleges have built their enrollment strategies on having as many as 50% of the total student body comprised of athletes. In the era of Covid-19, now what? Many are wondering if some of them will survive. Does the thinking hold up in 2020? Will sports continue to be a lifeline for enrollment? And will more colleges add football to try to address the declining population of male students? In 2018, the Council of Independent Colleges commissioned a report on the growth of college athletics on their 766 campuses across the U.S.. Welch Suggs is a co-author of this study, provides insight into the overall strategy and general trends.
July 23, 2020
The Controversy Surrounding Re-Opening Our Campuses-How Do The Decisions Get Made?
It's important to understand who is sitting at the table when it comes to critical institutional decisions. It's even more telling who is NOT sitting at the table. Today's conversation is focused on both the HOW and WHY of "return to campus" decisions that are made for Fall 2020. Presidents are under intense financial and political pressures (from all sides) to make the right decision, while considering the impact it will have on students, faculty, staff and the entire community. My guest is Kevin McClure, PhD., an Associate Professor at University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Kevin recently wrote an article that outlined his research on who served on these committees, and sometimes, who was left out. He discusses the Presidential messaging cues that seem misguided, using Mitch Daniels (Purdue), and John Jenkins (Notre Dame) as important examples. He also cites Michael Sorrell (Paul Quinn) and Katherine Newman (UMASS-Boston) as providing great examples of WHY they made the decisions they did on behalf of their institutions. As we continue to read re-opening decisions, keep this conversation in mind, and ask yourself "did the announcement tell me WHY they made this decision? Or just HOW they were going to execute it? That distinction is important.
July 14, 2020
Stanford dropped 11 sports, Vanderbilt cuts most of athletic communications dept....analysis from a PR expert on how schools manage difficult messaging around college sports
This week is a time like no other-the Ivy League announced the cancellation of Fall 2020 sports, Vanderbilt University, part of the powerful SEC football conference, announced the near elimination of their athletic communications department, and Stanford University announced the discontinuation of 11 Olympic sports. Prior to that, many other universities have announced cutbacks to their athletic programs. My guest is Steve Dittmore, Ph.D, a professor and assistant dean at the University of Arkansas, recently analyzed the messaging around delivering this difficult news to stakeholders. Examining 22 Division i schools, he looked deeply at the patterns that emerged, and offers senior leaders advice on how to tell the story with directness and fairness to all your audiences, including the athletes who are impacted.
July 08, 2020
Regional Public Universities in the Great Lakes Region Are Under Tremendous Pressure, and not just from COVID-19
Today we’re going to examine the fate of regional public institutions, particularly in the Upper Midwest and the Mid Atlantic regions. An overwhelming number of these institutions have robust athletics programs on their campuses in all NCAA divisions. The Brookings Institute recently assessed the economic, educational effects and overall well-being of regional public universities within the Great Lakes region, which consists of six Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While these states have been important sources of natural resources and centers of economic activity over the past two decades, economic trends such as globalization and automation have hollowed out their labor markets. We'll also look at Pennsylvania. I'm joined today by Sara Hebel, a co-founder of Open Campus Media, a nonprofit news organization focused on transforming local reporting about higher education. A former assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sara has more than two decades of experience as a newsroom leader and higher-education journalist.
June 25, 2020
Where Do Black College Athletes in Minneapolis fit In after George Floyd's death? A Candid Conversation With A Legend in Minnesota Journalism, Charles Hallman
This week's podcast leads with a personal conversation with Charles Hallman, a Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder journalist. Having this conversation with Charles has been on my mind since the horrific video of George Floyd's death consumed the nation three weeks ago, Floyd's death has led to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, discussions about police brutality and white nationalism, and is currently surging in the streets of cities and towns around the world. Charles' 40 year career in journalism has been filled with a unique perspective and a unique voice, one that is not afraid to call out race and equity issues in all of sports. Steeped in personal connections to many college and pro athletes, Hallman and I had a frank conversation about where the riots happened, what those streets look like today, the potential impact of new Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren's Anti Race and Anti Hatred initiative on the Big Ten Conference, and the influence that Richard Lapchick's work had on him. Lapchick is best known as a civil rights activist, producing an annual racial and gender equity report card in college athletics via the TIDES report. Read Charles' work
June 18, 2020
Liability and Lawsuits: What To Know In The Covid-19 Era
All anyone can think about right now is if/when college sports will be back. Will it be in the fall? Will football be back?. How about DIII schools? Presidents are overwhelmed with all of the what if scenarios, but Richard Giller, Partner and Insurance Recovery Lawyer in the Los Angeles law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, walks college leaders through the intricacies of opening up your campus. Richard brings excellent perspective on balancing the risks with re-opening college sports with the rewards of having students back on campus.
June 11, 2020
A University of Michigan Regent Speaks About Social Change and Why Jim Harbaugh Has Got It Right
Jordan Acker, the first University of Michigan Regent who graduated from the University in the 21st century, is a ball of fire. Part of the Obama White House, and a part of former Homeland Security Director and current University of California System President Janet Napolitano's homeland and cybersecurity team, Acker brings deep understanding of the important role the Regents play in the life of campus and in Ann Arbor. Our wide ranging discussion included the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests on campus, athlete social protests,, and why Jim Harbaugh is the right football coach for UM.
June 04, 2020
Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota--A Regent's View Of The Riots And A President's Decisions To Cut Ties With A Local Police Department
This week has been stunning. With the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, the city is in the national spotlight. Two days after he dies, University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel, with only an hour's notice to her Board of Regents, announced the University was severing ties with the Minneapolis Police Department for all large scale policing partnerships, including football games. Needless to say, it took Regent Michael Hsu by surprise. While our conversation had been scheduled before this tragedy occurred, Michael and I discussed his deep concerns over the role that Regents play in athletics oversight at the University. We also talked about the role that the Regents are (or are not) playing in making the decision for the campus to re-open in the fall. I think you'll find the discussion both enlightening and maddening. Michael emphasized that he is speaking for himself and not on behalf of the other Regents. Also, I spent four years at the University of Minnesota as an Associate Athletics Director, and while there, lived about 15 blocks from the epicenter of the rioting. Thanks for join us!
May 30, 2020
Infectious Disease Expert Talks About Return To Play For College Athletes
The last time Dr. Keith Hamilton and I saw each other, we went to an NBA basketball game a week before Christmas. The arena was sold out with fans excited to see Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia Sixers play the Washington Wizards. We are both sports fans, both former college athletes, so going to a sporting event was a natural. Since then, Hamilton, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, has been in the trenches fighting the coronavirus. For more depth on this topic, read my article in Forbes.com.
May 21, 2020
Return to Play Guidelines--How to start thinking about bringing athletics back to campus
This week, you'll hear my interview with KYW News Radio in Philadelphia, talking about a recent article in Forbes.com. The American College Health Association published return to campus guidelines in May, including athletics. If you are a college president, trustee or athletics director, I encourage you to listen to the recommendations.
May 14, 2020
Recruiting Out-Of-State Students--How State Funding Deficits And Big Time College Football Go Together in Land Grant Universities
I so pleased to welcome back to the podcast Scott Pattison, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa and the former CEO of the National Governors Association, Scott and his colleagues have been actively engaged in understanding the difficulties that state and local governments face in today's coronavirus world. We specifically discuss this article about the City of Tuscaloosa's (AL) finances. We also discuss, in more detail, the 2019 report from the Joyce Foundation called "Recruiting The Out-Of-State University", which discusses how public land grant Universities, using their high profile football programs and other outreach activities, are attracting and retaining upper middle income, out-of-state students, instead of low to moderate income minority students from their own states. This research points to the disconnect that schools like the University of Alabama and its vaunted football program have with instate minorities residents, despite making proclamations they are for "access" and "affordability".
May 14, 2020
Names, Images, Likenesses ... Two Perspectives on the NCAA Progress Letter
Everything you wanted to know about the latest NCAA updates on Names, Images and Likenesses from two perspectives--from a member of the NCAA working group, Jill Bodensteiner, Athletics Director at Saint Joseph's University, and a sobering letter sent days later to NCAA President Mark Emmert from United States Senators Chris Murphy (CT) and Cory Booker (NJ), reminding all of us just how large the gap is in addressing this issue.
May 08, 2020
Is There Any Way College Athletes Can Play This Fall--What Should College Trustees Know?
This week, we'll focus on two things: why college athletics should NOT start in Fall 2020 and a conversation with Henry Stoever, the President and CEO of the Association of Governing Boards in Washington, DC. Secondly, I wrote an article titled "Without A Vaccine, There Is No Way College Athletes Can Play This Fall" recently. I realize that headline is jarring. What? No college athletics this fall? How can you say that? How can you make a pronouncement like that? I get it. It was tough to write. I'll explain more in the podcast. President Stoever discusses the laser focus Trustees need to have today on institutional mission and values, and how that translates to surviving and thriving in the Coronavirus era. It is a conversation worth every minute, as Trustees must fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities at the highest levels today. I hope you'll join us!
May 07, 2020
Scott Cowan, President Emeritus at Tulane University talks the challenges of being competitive in Division I athletics
TIME magazine named Cowen one of the nation’s Top 10 Best College Presidents and he was one of only four university leaders nationwide to receive the 2009 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award. In 2010 Cowen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies. That same year he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions, which advised the President on ways to reconnect and empower young people who are neither employed nor in school.
April 30, 2020
A College President Leading Future Medical Professionals In The Age Of Coronavirus
We talk a lot about healthcare these days, and how much we admire those who are on the frontlines in our hospitals and in nursing homes. But stop and think for a second about nurses—where do they get their training? What is happening to those institutions in the middle of the coronavirus era? Simply, they matter-alot. Today, we’ll talk with Dr. Paula Langteau, President of an institution which has prepared nurses in South Dakota for decades. Presentation College is able to maintain the academic curriculum while operating virtually, as well as preparing the students to jump right into the front lines as soon as they graduate. They also have a robust athletics program which includes a number of nursing and medical students. Also, I was interviewed recently by Matt Leon, reporter for KYW Radio in Philadelphia about the financial impact for small college athletic programs in particular, and college athletics in general. I hope that conversation gives you something to think about.
April 23, 2020
Big Time Pressure in a Big Time Athletics Conference--The Critical Role of the Faculty Athletics Representative in the Southeastern Conference
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column for Forbes about what lies ahead for athletics beyond the inevitable furloughs and layoffs. Today, I'll outline some of the strategies organizations should take to embrace the new normal, and not just fall victim to it. I'm also joined by Dr. Pam Bruzina, professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and also their Faculty Athletics Representative to the Tigers Division I athletics program. Some of the topic areas we discussed included: How often do you interact with the President, the Athletic Department, the Faculty Senate (on issues regarding athletics) and any other campus wide committees? What kinds of conversations do you have with each area? Do you deliver presentations to the Board of Trustees? And how often do you interact with the other FARs of the SEC?
April 23, 2020
Student Fees, Student Affairs...And Just What Is An Athletics Direct Report?
This week's podcast will look at two areas important to students and their families--the cost of a degree, and the experience they can expect on campus when they arrive. For the athletics department, there is a key individual outside of the athletic department whose job it is to ensure the athletic experience is consistent with the mission of the college--the Athletics Direct Report, unique to small college programs. I'm joined by Dr. Lawrence Ward, from Babson College. He is the direct report at Babson, and has led workshops for other Division III schools on the importance of this role. He'll share with us how he navigates the myriad of responsibilities on campus. We'll also look at some of the research involving student fees, and the evolving disproportionate impact these rising fees are having on student debt, particularly among women undergraduate students.
April 16, 2020
Higher Education Finances in a Post-Coronavirous World- What's it like to be a Chief Financial Officer today?
This podcast takes a deep dive into how Universities' Chief Financial Officers are handling this new era. As table top exercises are discussed, and the short, medium and long term financial impacts are implemented, Susan Whealler Johnston, PhD , President and CEO of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), provides you with an overview of finances in the post-COVID-19 world. Some of our conversation included: NACUBOs new report on endowments—averages, trends, and now that the stock market is completely out of whack, how business officers should be talking to athletic development professionals about their fundraising efforts and goals; Any sense of the distributions schools might be taking considering the drop in their portfolios? The impact on student financial aid? Business Officers are often the Chief Risk Management Officer on campus. In this age of coronavirus, what risks are they paying attention to? Anything specific to athletics? What leadership strategies can Business Officers use to keep their President, Board and senior leadership team apprised of significant financial risks? Not as much came from the economic stimulus act recently enacted as higher education would have preferred—how does NACUBO fit into advocating for more in the next round of stimulus? Many colleges have margins that are really thin—what strategies does NACUBO suggest to help with the bottom line?
April 16, 2020
Small Colleges Must Begin To Address The Challenges Ahead, And That Includes Athletics
To start off the podcast, Karen looks at the strong headwinds facing higher education and athletics, putting them squarely on the table in front of us. Her belief is we can't fix the problems if we don't acknowledge them. One of the emerging recommendations for small colleges is to become "laser-focused" on their mission and the students they serve. and today you'll hear from an outstanding leader who is doing that right now. Linda Oubre became the President of Whittier College in 2018. Since then, she has been on a whirlwind journey to reframe the institution as a the leading Hispanic Serving Institution in the United States. 35% of her student population are athletes, and the alumni told her, as she began her tenure, they want a winning football program. Dr. Oubre walks us through her own presidential journey, which began with the athletic director resigning just as she arrived on campus. Today, Whittier is embracing the evolving demographic shift in higher education by becoming the go to campus for Latina females interested in STEM majors. For more about what athletics can do today, here are some ideas from a recent article in Forbes.com.
April 09, 2020
Seeing Around Corners-The Legal World Of Higher Education And Athletics-The General Counsel
From the president to the athletics director, former Vanderbilt University General Counsel Audrey Anderson walks us through the dynamics of the General Counsel's office on the campus of an SEC institution. Anderson, the former General Counsel at Vanderbilt University, explains the size of her portfolio, how she anticipates what the president needs to hear, and how to stay visible and approachable inside the athletics department. She discusses the important relationship with the NCAA Compliance Coordinator, and how important that dotted line reporting relationship was to the University as a whole. And...why the general counsel's office needs to see the contracts ahead of time for the half time performers! After the conversation, you'll see how valuable a proactive, highly competent general counsel can be at the Division I level. Also, in this age of #WorkFromHome", could you imagine doing almost anything without the internet? Karen provides some thoughts as to why this once "luxury" item should now be viewed as a "necessity", and regulated as such by the Federal Government, in a recent article on Forbes.com.
April 09, 2020
Disruption in Athletics and Higher Education in the Coronavirus Era
This podcast is all about disruption--as a leader, how do you handle this disruption, and what should folks who oversee athletics do to adapt to this environment. I am joined by Bob Zemsky, professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of "The College Stress Test: Tracking Institutional Futures Across a Crowded Market". I also share some of my ideas for collegiate athletics, including indicators that leaders should be attending to now. Listen now to be ahead of the curve.
April 02, 2020
Why the Academic Fraud Case At North Carolina Remains Unpenalized To This Day
Dan Kane, a staff investigative reporter at the Raleigh (NC) News and Observer, followed and reported on the University of North Carolina's massive academic integrity scandal from the beginning. To this day, UNC has never been punished for the over 3,100 students (half which were athletes) who took "paper" classes. It seemed that the accreditors for the University were about to punish them, then all of the sudden,.... nothing. What happened? And how did the NCAA ignore a Pac12 President's suggestion to again provide an academic oversight function in late 2019? Dan and I unpack the issues in this week's podcast.
April 02, 2020
Abilene Christian's jump from Division II to Division I--How One School Executed the Plan
This week, my conversation is with Phil Schubert, the President at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. When Phil became President in 2010, he and his Board had deliberate plans for growing the institution's profile and retention, and athletics played an integral part in that effort. Today, they are a successful member of the Southland Conference along with a brand new football stadium on campus. How did he make this work? Take a listen. UPDATE: Abilene Christian's Men's Basketball team upset the University of Texas Longhorns in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
March 26, 2020
Gender Equity In A Changing Enrollment Environment-A Conversation With An NAIA President
Dr. Mike Williams, President of Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama discusses the challenges for becoming compliant with Title IX in athletics in an environment where you need to increase the number of males on your campus. He says that he was surprised after assuming the role as President as to how much time he would spend thinking about college athletics. Also, I continue the conversation with the co-Chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. Carol Cartwright. Cartwright provides insight into the changes the Commission has guided the NCAA to implement, including reforms on behalf of student athletes in academic success and health and safety. The KCIA has put a premium on presidential leadership and oversight of athletics.
March 19, 2020
Drama in the Board Room--The University of South Carolina's Trustees Have a "Misguided Governance Culture"
This week, I interviewed Lucas DaPrile, reporter for The State newspaper in South Carolina. DaPrile has been covering the story for some time, and has provided his readers insight into the reasons that the Board invited a consulting firm to assess the culture and competence of their oversight. The result? The consultants told the Board they must fix ‘fundamentally misguided governance culture." Listen for more details as to how this may have involved interference in the employment of the head football coach and the athletics director.
March 12, 2020
The Big East Conference --A View From The Inside With Val Ackerman
Val Ackerman has been around college, professional and international basketball for most of her life. From being former collegiate athlete at the University of Virginia, to becoming the Commissioner of the Big East Conference and one of Sports Business Journal's 50 most influential people in sports, Val has a perspective on how college athletics works that many will want to know.
March 05, 2020
What Can College Presidents And Trustees Learn From The Ivy League Model? An Interview With Jeff Orleans
The Ivy League has one of the most storied traditions in all of college athletics. Comprised of eight institutions, they have worked together to establish standards and guidelines that allow for athletes to be students first, yet still compete for NCAA Championships. Attending an Ivy event means passion and school spirit, and certainly demonstrates that champions can be found in the League. My guest is former Commissioner Jeff Orleans.
February 27, 2020
Can We Do Athletics Differently?
A conversation with Donna Lopiano, President of Sports Management Resources, former women's athletics director at the University of Texas, and President of the Women's Sports Foundation. Dr. Lopiano has been meeting with Senators and members of the House, to advance legislation in the Federal Government to redefine college athletics. She is a co-author of a book, Unwinding Madness, which provides numerous examples of how higher education could restructure college athletics to benefit athletes and manage costs.
February 20, 2020
A Regent Speaks Out About Athlete Safety--My Interview With Linda Shoemaker, University of Colorado-Boulder
Linda Shoemaker, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Trustees, has been proactively advocating for concussion research and safety for many years, particularly in the sport of football. She has inserted the issue into the search for a new head football coach, and organized player safety presentations to her fellow Regents. She has some serious reservations about college athletics’ dependence on football and its revenue streams.
February 13, 2020
Conversations with a Division I President, Carol Cartwright
Carol Cartwright, former President at Kent State (Ohio) and Bowling Green (Ohio) Universities, sits down to discuss the impact that Division I athletics had in the decision making structure at both universities, from faculty to the Board of Trustees.
February 06, 2020
Using Your Athletics Program to Drive Enrollment and Retention
This week, we'll talk with Lucie Lapovsky, financial consultant and owner of Lapovsky Consulting. She'll talk the nuts and bolts of adding sports, and why sometimes your first thought to drop a sport might need rethinking -- that sport could actually be a differentiator between you and your competitors. You'll also hear my thoughts about athlete medical debt- you'll hear why one top basketball player is faced with $22,000 in medical bills, all from playing the sport she loved, and was recruited to the campus to play. Here is the link to the full article in Forbes.com.
January 30, 2020
Life in a Basketball Centric Conference-A Conversation With Mark Reed, President, Saint Joseph's University
Leading off with a semi-annual report from Moody's on the health of the higher education industry, Dr. Karen Weaver is joined by Dr. Mark Reed, President at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia to discuss the revenue outlook for private institutions that play NCAA Division I basketball. Topics covered include presidential leadership at the Atlantic 10 Conference level, and life in a "basketball centric" conference. Finally, don't forget to join us each Thursday morning for fresh content. And check out my companion article about finances on Forbes.com
January 23, 2020
Higher Ed, College Athletics and State Budgets--A Frank Discussion with Scott Pattison
This week, we'll visit with Scott Pattison. With decades of experience in the public policy arena, Scott is a sought-after expert in public finance, higher education and workforce policy. Having served as the CEO of the National Governors Association (NGA), the head of the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) and as the State Budget Director of Virginia, Pattison has a unique perspective on the politics, structures and actors that inform decision-making on these critical issues. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy and a Senior Advisor with the public affairs firm Wellington Dupont. We'll also look at the movement surrounding names, images and likenesses for college athletes, and why biometric data should be included in the discussion. Find out more in my article on Forbes.com
January 16, 2020
Athletics and the small college--thoughts from a Division III president
An Interview with Dr. Scott Flanagan. This week, we’ll focus on the role of the President at a Division III institution. Division III is understood to be the Non-scholarship opposite of Division I, but most think of athletics there as nothing more. Yet, for colleges and universities, athletes play an important role in the success or failure of an institution and or a presidency. How do you run a successful DIII program? How does it complement campus life? Enrollment? Finances? How do the President and the Board work together to ensure the athletics program fits the goals and aspirations of the school? To answer some of those questions, I very happy to have Dr. Scott Flanagan, recently retired President at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.
January 09, 2020
Trustee Interference at Wayne State University-with David Jesse, reporter @freep
Wayne State is a public mid sized school with a board of trustees elected by the voters of Michigan. The Detroit Free Press’ David Jesse has been covering Wayne State for many years, and has been front and center in the very public battles involving 50% of the trustees trying to publicly oust President Roy Wilson. The trustees have been accused of meddling in other campus wide issues, including NCAA athletic financial aid reports. Follow David on Twitter @reporterdavidj.
January 02, 2020
Trustees and Presidents--Managing College Sports--coming January 1, 2020
Coupled with supplementary content written exclusively for Forbes, this podcast will address a perspective of intercollegiate athletics that few discuss--the view from the President's Office, the Board of Trustees, and other stakeholder groups in higher education. We won't focus just on NCAA Division I- instead, we'll look at the bigger picture, and how athletics (big time and small time) are relevant to state government officials, local economies, higher ed policy experts (and scholars), small college finances, and national educational organizations. This material is designed to give you a deeper understanding of the looming challenges that higher education faces, and why athletics is being counted on by so many schools to solve those problems. Will it work? Demographic changes are impacting nearly all college campuses; add to that an economic downturn, and you'll soon see why college athletics will play a significant role. It's all about the money.. The podcast is hosted by Karen Weaver, EdD. You can learn more about Karen here.
November 29, 2019