Your guide to the NCAA Convention
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This week will be a slightly unusual publishing schedule for Extra Points.
I am leaving later this afternoon to drive to Indianapolis for the NCAA Convention. My plan is to be in Indy all week, along with my fellow D1.ticker colleagues, to shoot video, conduct interviews, get the #scoops, and say hello to many folks I've been talking to for months but haven't actually, you know, met yet. If you are going to be in Indy this week, whether you work in college sports or not, and would like to say hi this week, drop me a line. I'd love to talk to you!
Typically, Going For Two publishes every Wednesday morning. We're going to attempt something a little different this week, and will plan on recording on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening, giving you daily updates on what we're hearing and seeing from the corridors and continental breakfasts of the convention. Be sure to subscribe to Going For Two on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you like to download your podcasts.
If you're not sure what is even supposed to happen at these things, or why this particular convention might be a big deal, don't worry. I have a little cheat sheet for you...and because I haven't covered many of these myself and wasn't totally sure about how every little subcommittee fit together, I talked to Horizon League Commissioner Julie Roe Lach to clear a few things up.
When is the NCAA Convention?
The NCAA convention begins on Tuesday, January 18, and technically runs through Saturday, January 22, with the bulk of the programming occurring between Tuesday and Thursday. Administrators from D-I, D-II and D-III will all be there, along with vendors, conference leaders and media members.
What makes this particular NCAA Convention important?
You might have heard about this, but NCAA membership plans to vote on an entirely new constitution on Thursday. This new constitution, broadly speaking, delegates substantial authority to divisions, who will each then create their own, divison-specific constitution, later this year. The hope is that this new constitution will allow for speedier and more relevant legislation. It is expected to pass without significant opposition (with any opposition, I'm told, coming from D-III, not D-I or D-II).
Lach told me that this new constitutional reform represents a chance for member schools to "streamline this constitution, without compromising the principles by any means." It also gives membership a chance to "take some things out of there that shouldn't probably have been there in the first place, as it relates to just good governance."
Lach reminded me that "it's not very often you get divisions one, two, and three in the same room," so the vote on Thursday afternoon is pretty historic, and not just because it sets the table for some potentially very significant conversations later this year.
I know there are a gazillion schools in the NCAA, but it can't possibly take three days to vote on this thing, right? So what else is happening?
The Constitution vote is currently scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but there's still plenty happening on the other days.
Tuesday's schedule is full of subcommittee meetings, across multiple membership levels. The Football Oversight Committee will meet, other sport-specific committees (Lach, for example, serves on the Women's Basketball Oversight Committee), student-advisory committees, and division-specific groups. The sport-specific groups are expected to discuss issues like COVID policies, championship events, and other business and housekeeping type things, among others.
Wednesday includes multiple athletic conference meetings, as well as professional development opportunities for Senior Women Administrators, Athletic Directors, Faculty Representatives, and other administrator types.
Thursday morning includes the D-I Board of Directors Meeting (think university presidents), the Knight Commission meeting, presentations on Emerging Sports (like acrobatics and tumbling, or women’s wrestling), and then the association-wide vote. Professional development and trade show programming also continues on Thursday and Friday.
And that's just the stuff happening inside the formal convention. This is also an opportunity for administrators to network, gossip, and just hang out in person, something many of them haven't had the chance to do in months, if ever.
What do D-II institutions think about all of this?
I asked three conference commissioners about what they thought of the proposed constitution, and what they expected to be areas of discussion for the D-II specific constitution. I hope to talk to other D-II leaders this week and share their thoughts after everybody has had a chance to sit in some hotel ballrooms for a minute and argue.
What do you think the D-I schools are going to argue about?
Lach reiterated that COVID, safety-protocols and athlete health are likely to occupy a significant amount of the discussion outside constitutional reform, and for good reason. Across all levels of college athletics, I'm told there is concern about how to best update protocols and keep athletes safe, while also providing competitive opportunities as close to anything resembling a routine as possible. Testing capacity, budgets and other resources are not uniform across the country, and what teams and conferences decided to do back in December may not be what they decide to do in say, April.
As far as points of contention for the next D-I constitution? As of now, there's still a lot of uncertainty among the admins I've talked to, but nearly everyone, from ADs to coaches to conference leaders, has brought up championship access. If P5 schools clamor for "additional flexibility and autonomy", does that mean they'll try to muscle out mid or low majors from, say, the NCAA Men's basketball Tournament, or the College World Series? The folks I've talked to had more concerns about postseason access than they did about NIL or pure financial distributions.
I do not think, as of right this second, that a formal P5-everybody else SPLIT is exactly on the table, but man, it's January. Things sure can change in a hurry.
I have a specific question about all of this that I sure hope Extra Points can answer.
Lay it on me. @MattBrownEP on Twitter, or [email protected]. I'll do my absolute best to get you an answer.
Are you gonna go to St.Elmo like every other sportswriter ever?
Yeah, probably. I'll listen to Jason Isbell on the walk over there, then head back to my desk at a Marriott, so I can complete the Sportswriter Triple Crown.
Sounds like you're going to be talking to a lot of people, reading a lot of PowerPoints, and walking through a lot of hotel hallways. How can we support you?
Great question. The best way to support Extra Points is by upgrading to a full subscription.
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Have a great week everybody. Stay tuned for more coverage here on Extra Points, on Twitter, and on Collegiate Sports Connect.
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