Athletics directors express a preference for keeping FBS football under NCAA supervision, if governance can be improved.

The vast majority of Division I athletic directors at the LEAD1 annual fall meeting on Wednesday expressed a “strong preference” to keep FBS football under NCAA supervision if it could be more streamlined and less bureaucratic.

Tom McMillan, CEO and president of the organization that represents FBS’ 131 athletic directors, said there were a total of 105 ads who participated in the closed discussions (about 80 people and roughly the rest), and that by a show of hands in the room, it was clear that they would prefer the NCAA to continue Its oversight of the most popular sport in college athletics.

“We seldom have such a consensus on an issue,” McMillen said. “Today it has been doubly reasserted that the status quo is unacceptable, and that there is a very strong preference for a model in the NCAA that is too simplistic and far less bureaucratic. There is a lot of detail to put into this, but a lot [more] Streamlining governance within the NCAA. And if that cannot be achieved, move it abroad.”

FBS football is currently the only collegiate sport governed by the NCAA but operates its own national championship through College Football Playoff. The NCAA deals with issues such as rules, litigation, concussion litigation and enforcement, but does not receive any money from the CFP. The idea of ​​separating FBS football from the NCAA began in December 2020, when it was proposed by the Knight Intercollegiate Athletics Committee.

The committee continued to support its recommendation to the NCAA that “all other sports govern the reorganized Division I administration, and schools with FBS football programs remain part of the NCAA in all other sports except football.”

The idea has gained traction, especially as college athletics has undergone sweeping changes, including the athletes’ name, image and likeness rights, another round of conference reorganization, and the recent approval of 12 teams in a CFP playoff game.

At the meeting on Wednesday, though, McMillan said outgoing AAA CFO Kathleen McNeely gave a presentation to the group that revealed that the NCAA spends $65 million on various expenses such as catastrophe insurance and administrative expenses.

“This does not include any unusual costs of legal cases,” McMillen said. “You know, the NCAA is the legal shield. It’s a big number. I don’t think everyone knows that.”

There was another presentation on how the current NCAA structure works, which took about 30 minutes to explain the many layers in the current system.

“After all the separate groups,” McMillen said.[the ADs] We came to the conclusion that there was a better way to run a railroad within the NCAA.”

LEAD1 does not have the authority to change NCAA rules or restructure college football, but the closed-door meetings were an opportunity for more discussions about the future of the sport. McMillen said they hope to get about 100 athletic directors to sign a letter that LEAD1 will send to the NCAA Transformation Committee, the NCAA, and the individual conferences.

The ads agree that there are things the NCAA does well, specifically tournament organization, health and safety oversight, and special rules, said West Virginia athletics director Shane Lyons, who is a member of the NCAA transformation committee. sports.

“I think there have been a lot of discussions,” Lyons said. “I think the transformation committee will take this discussion in its meetings and look at it and continue to try to formulate something by the end of the year that we hope to be able to consider and vote on.”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who is the co-chair of the NCAA’s Transformation Committee, pulled the index card from the chest pocket of his suit and spoke about topics such as “membership, governance, and student-athlete experience” as points addressed by the Transformation Committee.

“The shift committee hasn’t spent much time allotted to FBS management at this point,” Sankey said. “This was one of those opportunities to contribute.”

Sankey said the problems currently facing college athletics will not go away simply by transferring FBS football from the NCAA and under CFP supervision. He wondered what sports leaders would say to Olympic athletes when trying to explain why football was separated from one another — a message he repeated to sports directors here.

As co-chair of the NCAA’s Transformation Committee with Sankey, Ohio Athletic Director Julie Cromer said the committee is trying to fulfill its mission of envisioning how Division I can continue with everyone under one big tent.

“I certainly understand some of the challenges and tensions you hear about from my colleagues here,” she said. “At the same time, I think we have a structure in the NCAA that has the ability to work. So I think we’ll continue to have the dialogue and see where it leads.”

If college football remains in the NCAA, its management structure must be improved, said Iowa state athletic director Gary Barta.

“I think there is more consensus than there has been in the past,” Barta said. “And in fact, if you think about it, a lot of this was being built during COVID. So this is one of the first opportunities that we all had to be together to focus on what is best for college football going forward. … We are really digging Let’s say, NCAA college football, how can we improve it? How can we simplify it? If bureaucracy is an obstacle, how can we break through the bureaucracy?…How do we make college football better?”

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