NCAA focused on containing costs
Published: Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 12:09 a.m.
GRAPEVINE, Texas - With big steps already being taken toward academic reform in college athletics, NCAA president Myles Brand believes the next area of concern is containing costs.
In his state of the NCAA speech on Saturday, Brand expressed concern about ever-increasing athletic budgets. He warned that similar rates of growth, pushed recently by big TV contracts and other "fast-flowing new revenue streams," are unlikely in the future.
"There will be disappointments when the rate of growth moderates," Brand said.
Winning programs won't necessarily escape that trend.
Brand pointed to an economic study released by the NCAA a year ago that found no correlation between increased spending and increased winning, or between increased winning and increased revenues.
The need to increase the rate at which revenue expands has also inflated the need to increase wins, Brand said. That has raised the competition for outstanding student-athletes and coaches, some who have $2 million annual contracts.
"We must arrest the slide toward professional athletics and the sports entertainment industry," Brand said. "And while the problem is not of crisis proportions right now, the time to (address the problem) is now."
The average Division I university spends almost $15 million a year on athletics. That increases to about $27 million for schools with Division I-A football.
Brand said the problem of "spiraling expectations" isn't directed only at Division I-A programs.
"The same process has driven some I-AA programs to moves its football to I-A and some Division II programs to seek the visibility of Division I," he said.
Some schools feel that moving "to the next level" will result in enhanced academic reputation or new institutional revenue streams, or both.
While containing costs dominated his speech, Brand also discussed academic reform, a centerpiece of his plan since becoming the NCAA's leader two years ago, and the status of amateurism in college sports.
Brand also called it "simply appalling" that there are so few black head football coaches in Division I, as well as Divisions II and III, and not enough women in high positions such as head coaches and athletic directors.
Under a plan being finalized this weekend by a committee and expected to be approved Monday by the Division I Board of Directors, schools will face scholarship reductions for poor academic performance by teams.
The Division I Committee on Academic Performance hoped to determine the final standards for the program on Sunday.
"These measures will change the culture of college sports," Brand said. "Success as a student as well as an athlete, simply, is the only acceptable standard for the future in college sports."
Within the next month, universities and colleges will have an annual report outlining academic progress of athletes and a longer-term graduation success rate.
The loss of scholarships for failing to reach standards will be capped at 5 or 10 percent. Based on the lower number, I-A football teams could lose no more than four of its 85 scholarships, and women's and men's basketball could lose only one.
Still, Brand said student-athletes in both Divisions I and II graduate at a higher rate than the student body - two percentage points in Division I and eight percentage points in Division II.
But football and men's basketball players graduate below both the student-athlete rate and the student body rate in both Divisions I and II.
"Although some leave to try their hand at professional sports, there are not nearly enough of these young men to explain the disappointing low numbers," Brand said. "The bottom line is that too many student-athletes in these two sports are simply leaving before they earn a degree."
Many of those players are leaving for the lure of the money offered in professional sports. But some contend that because of the big money generated by some football and men's basketball teams, players should share in the profits.
"I could not be more opposed," Brand said. "Amateurism is not about how much, it is about why. It is not about the money, it is about the motivation."
He said the collegiate model of sports is based on the idea that students come to college to get an education. While knowing he sounded old-fashioned, he also believes most of the 360,000 student-athletes "play sports under the banner of the university for the love of the game."
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