Be careful what you wish for
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Earlier this week, KUSports.com reported an interesting potential development with public universities in Kansas.
Members of the Kansas Board of Regents are in the process of creating a new policy that would require any Regents university — KU, K-State, Wichita State, Fort Hays State, Pittsburg State and Emporia State — to get approvals from at least three non-university officials before moving to a new athletic conference.
The pending policy — which was recently approved by a subcommittee of the Regents, but not yet acted upon by the full board — comes on the heels of major conference realignment, which has sparked discussion about whether KU may need to move from the Big 12 Conference to protect its athletic programs.
As it stands right now, Kansas public institutions are required to get permission from the Board of Regents Chair and the president in order to begin negotiations over potential conference changes, but they don't technically need any board approval to actually make the conference move.
The impetus for revisiting the policies, according to the story, is the fact that UCLA did not inform California regents before deciding to join the Big Ten.
“We saw with the UCLA situation that there wasn’t alignment there, and we want to make sure we move forward in alignment in Kansas,” Regents Chair Jon Rolph told the Journal-World on Thursday.
But these policies may only be as good as their regents
In my experience, a public school university regent has a lot in common with say, an ambassador. Sure, there are several of them who are subject matter experts or deeply committed civil servants. But you've also got a lot of folks who got the job because they donated money to the right politician, and they're more interested in shaking hands at football games or graduation than they are in policy making.
In practice, a university regent has more actual power than even an ambassador, at least in terms of their ability to make and execute policy, even if they're often not interested in using it.
Is it good policy, again, just speaking hypothetically here, to give potential athletic department veto power to folks who a) may not know anything about college sports or b) even worse, are radicalized message board posters?
That's not totally a joke. I asked a few higher education scholars and professionals about this, and several pointed to a rising trend of increasingly politicized governor appointees, folks who view their regency seats as a place to battle against CRT or another political pinata of the day. Could that potentially create athletic department governance issues?
I asked Dr. Demetri Morgan, an assistant professor studying college governance at Loyola-Chicago about this. He told me that on one hand, "it's a good thing to see boards try to be proactive, rather than reactive, about college sports governance." Dr.Morgan believes that interest in taking more aggressive action in athletics from boards has increased over the last 15 years, as athletic scandals have grown, and wanting to stop a problem before it starts could be good policy.
But Dr.Morgan also raised similar concerns about the politicization of the role, and questioned whether conference realignment was the best place for boards to seek additional engagement. "Where were boards over athlete health and safety? Over NIL? Over other major college athletics governance questions? Why realignment?"
I honestly don't know the perfect solution or governance model. Boards of Regents across the country may be looking to reclaim or establish additional authority on local campus matters, a trend that could very well drift into athletic department policy beyond just conference affiliation. It's certainly not uncommon for these individuals to be a part of search committees (or uh...informally be a part of that process).
Will that influence always be for good? I dunno. Depends on who the regents are. I hope the ones working to support your alma mater are good ones.
We also talked with the guy who had last week's most iconic call.
For Friday's EP, Bryan and I caught up with our old friend Adam Witten, better known as the Voice of Appalachian State football. We chatted about what GameDay meant for the program and for the city of Boone, how to determine how much emotion to put into a call, his thoughts on this Sun Belt season, and of course...what was going through his head at the end of the Troy game. Here's the call.
And here's the play:
Earlier in the week, Bryan and I also chatted about how good the Arizona State football job actually is (Bryan and I disagree!), whether UCLA would actually only break-even by joining the Big Ten.
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Here's what else we've cooked up this week
Yesterday, I shared a few thoughts about what ADs at Christian universities have told me about being a Christ-centered athletic department, and what it means for a department to strive to be a peacemaker.
We had special guest Ethan Joyce write for us about how Appalachian State prepared to host College GameDay for the first time ever. Did you know the radio voice from the famous Michigan game is now the head of the Boone Chamber of Commerce? I didn't...until I edited the newsletter that Ethan wrote.
I wrote about why I think firing a football coach in September is a sign of organizational failure, and why I think those questions have to be addressed before the next coach has a chance to be successful.
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