The NCAA faces challenges both in how it is governed and in how conferences are organized. Last week, Ivy League athletic directors converged on New Haven to weigh in on these and other issues facing the Ancient Eight.
The athletic directors from all eight Ivy League institutions met for a two-and-a-half-day conference at Yale last week to discuss how current NCAA policies and governance affect the conference. Although Executive Director of the Ivy League Robin Harris said no formal outcomes were reached during the discussions, the athletic directors addressed the major issue of NCAA re-governance.
“The issues that are brought to the meetings come from coaches, student-athletes, university press, campuses and athletic directors,” said Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett. “They come from any number of areas all dealing with the experience of athletes in the Ivy League.”
Presidents of universities generally have significant power in both forming and amending athletic policies within the current NCAA structure. A popular restructuring proposal calls for a presidential board of directors, under which athletic directors would have greater policy making and evaluating power.
Harris said that she would like to investigate what the board of the directors would look like and how the board would be involved.
Earlier this year, schools from the “Big Five” football conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — discussed splitting from Division I athletics to form a new division. These changes were proposed to allow universities in these conferences to potentially adopt new scholarship regulations, among other benefits to athletes.
While this particular restructuring would not involve the realignment of any Ivy League schools, the consequences of such realignment remain a concern to Ivy League athletic directors.
“You don’t want to see NCAA standards for academics varying within the division,” Harris said.
League restructuring has a ripple effect on universities across the country, even if the university in question does not change conferences.
In the 2013–2014 season, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association was disbanded and many of its former members joined either the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference or the Big 10. In addition to the creation of new conferences, several teams moved conferences.
These moves will help create rivalries and generate revenue for dominant hockey programs.
“New conferences like the Big 10, for example, will also spark new rivalries in hockey which is great for the sport,” said captain of the Yale men’s hockey team Jesse Root ’14. “Also, rivals will meet more frequently which is great for the fans.”
Conference realignment may have the opposite effect for schools where hockey is their top or only program. Smaller schools could see declines in tickets sales because they will offer fewer matchups against traditional powerhouses that left their conference for the Big 10.
“It’s no surprise that people want to see big name schools come play,” said Yale men’s hockey defenseman Mitch Witek ’16. “The system is pretty unfair because the big name schools are unwilling to play road games against smaller schools.”
Athletic directors also reviewed how they pay their officials in last week’s conference, which is one of several meetings of the Ivy League athletic directors that take place throughout the year.
The directors participate in monthly conference calls.
Ivy League athletic directors typically meet at Yale or in New York City because the two sites are considered central locations, according to Beckett. The next conference will take place in New York City in December.