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Trustees and Presidents- Opportunities and Challenges In Intercollegiate Athletics

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, (with guest hosts along the way), 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 insightful conversation.

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Regional Public Universities in the Great Lakes Region Are Under Tremendous Pressure, and not just from COVID-19

Trustees and Presidents- Opportunities and Challenges In Intercollegiate Athletics

Regional Public Universities in the Great Lakes Region Are Under Tremendous Pressure, and not just from COVID-19

Trustees and Presidents- Opportunities and Challenges In Intercollegiate Athletics

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 3, 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 ""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 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 8, 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 4, 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
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 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 8, 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 7, 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
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
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
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
April 9, 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
April 9, 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 2, 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 2, 2020
Jumping 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.
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 5, 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 6, 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
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
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
January 16, 2020
Athletics and the small college--thoughts from a Division III president
An Interview with Dr. Scott FlanaganThis 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 9, 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 2, 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