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NCAA Invites Ideas for a Redesigned Division I. How About Yours?

The NCAA this week began surveying select individuals, conferences, and other groups, inviting suggestions for redesigning the Division I governance structure. The association plans to use the ideas, along with those gathered from discussions in October with other groups, to help shape the agenda of a January meeting aimed at fleshing out the future of the top NCAA level.

Here’s a site that offers guidance on the survey. (I learned about this from someone copied on the process.) The page describes some of the goals of the Division I Board of Directors in redefining Division I, which include the creation of a “more transparent, responsive, participative, and streamlined governance system” that, among other things, “seeks to build community, consensus, and trust.”

If you’ve been paying attention lately, you know those are hardly the characteristics that many people see in the current NCAA. Thanks to widely reported problems with its investigation of the University of Miami, worries over potential class-action lawsuits involving player rights and concussions (including another lawsuit announced on Wednesday), and deep rifts within Division I, there’s a widespread lack of confidence in the association and its ability to govern.

“Basically, they’re in a place where they don’t have a strategy or a mission that has credibility with conferences, the schools, and the public,” one campus official told me recently.

According to its call for proposals, the NCAA wants input on two key areas: membership structure (“What should the overall divisional membership structure look like?”) and governance entities (“What governing bodies do we need, and what should each do?”).

Among the questions the NCAA is asking (and forgive me, as I’m mixing questions about membership structure and governance):

  • Can one governance body or structure serve the broad range of Division I institutions, or are multiple governing bodies or structures needed to accommodate the programs that now make up the division (e.g., different rules and championships)?
  • How should the Division I board be structured, and how should it function?
  • What other structures should exist to support the board’s work?
  • How can the work of those varying groups best be coordinated, and how can those groups be assured that their work and input are meaningful?

When making recommendations, Division I members are urged to consider the role of conferences, the simplicity of structure and process, and “maximizing the value of existing structures and processes wherever possible, but not being constrained by what exists today.”

After that it gets pretty deep in the weeds. But all of this made me wonder: What would an ideal NCAA look like? If you’ve got any creative ideas (hold the snark, please), feel free to include them in the comments below, or drop me a line.

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