Monday, January 21, 2013

The Closer: My 3 days at the NCAA Convention

I spent this past summer doing scholarly research and writing under the supervision and in coordination with Dr. Ellen Staurowsky. Through that research and writing, I was able to help Dr. S compose two separate scholarly journal articles as a co-author and research assistant. Our first composition, titled "Exploring Multiple Inequalities in College Sport: Revisiting So-Called Title IX Program Cuts at James Madison University Five Years After", was accepted for publication by the Journal of Intercollegiate Sport. This same paper was accepted for presentation at the NCAA Scholarly Colloquium, held at the NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas; so off I was.

Along with my research partners and co-presenters, Drexel Sport Management Sophomore Matt Puzio and Drexel Sport Management Professor Dr. Staurowsky, I spent January 14th-16th at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas for the NCAA Scholarly Colloquium.
I knew going into this trip that it would be a learning experience and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me; the latter turned out to be true in multiple ways. Rumors were flying around for the past few months that the NCAA was going to remove it's funding for the Scholarly Colloquium following this years event. On Monday evening, the night before the Colloquium was set to begin, NCAA executives informed the board of the Colloquium that their funding would be removed after this years event, including the funding for the Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, which the board organized. The reasoning given by the NCAA was, according the NCAA Chief Operating Officer Jim Irsch, that the colloquium "has not developed in the way we hoped," as reported by This announcement was very disheartening to many at the Colloquium, especially those on the Board of Executives who work so hard every year to put the event on and are so dedicated to their work and research.
The first day of the Coloquium was full of great speeches and reactions by many scholars. The first days Keynote speeches included:
  • "Historical Roots of Financial Inequality within College Sports" presented by Andrew Zimbalist, Professor of Economics at Smith College.
  • "The Impacts of Financial Inequality in Low Revenue Athletic Programs" presented by John Dunn, President of Western Michigan University
  • "The Impacts of Financial Inequality in High Revenue Athletic Programs" presented by Michael Martin, Chancellor of the Colorado State University system, formerly Chancellor of Louisiana State University
These speeches really taught me a lot of information that I didn't know, and opened my eyes to issues and avenues that I didn't know existed. Dr. Zimbalist focused on the roots of the financial inequality of college sports and how they affect today's universities, athletic departments, and athletes. President Dunn discussed what it is like to manage a low-revenue, low-expense athletic program at the Division-I level and why these programs suffer when facing big-time, national competition. Chancellor Martin displayed his incredible knowledge of running athletic programs from the highest of revenue streams (LSU) to much lower revenue programs (New Mexico State and Colorado State) and how they differ.
Chancellor Martin and President Dunn mentioned a lot about conference and university TV deals and how they are skewing the revenues of athletic programs, making it very unfair for the "little guys" in every conference. President Dunn focused on the return on investment for lower revenue programs compared to their "Big 6" opponents. His researched exposed the inequality surrounding the "bandwidth" or gap in revenues between the highest and lowest teams in each FBS conference. Four are listed below:
  • MAC: $9 million
  • Mountain West: $38 million
  • Big 10: $83 million
  • Big 12: $102 million
Dunn also stated a very fascinating statistic regarding the "clean schools" in the FBS. As written the Wall Street Journal, "So who are the innocents? According to the NCAA, there are 17 schools with major athletic departments (whose football teams compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision) that have never been found guilty of any major violation in any sport since 1953, when the NCAA began tracking rule violations. That's about 14% of the total." Out of these 17 schools, 13 of them play in a non-major (non-"Big 6") conferences, where the expectations are much lower. Also, of the violations recorded, 55% were football-based, and 44% were basketball-based. These statistics evoke the question, is their a correlation between the amount of revenue a department has and the likelihood of that department to commit an NCAA violation? Also, is their an increased pressure and likelihood of coaches and administrators to break NCAA violations to benefit their revenue sports? This, in itself, could be a whole blog that isfor another time.
In response to these presenters, Dr. Karen Weaver, Drexel Sport Management Professor, addressed these financial inequalities, focusing on the very TV deals that have caused the massive Conference realignment. All of the stats that she included led to the question that she finished her reaction with, "If all of these big time schools are making all of this money off of TV right agreements, how much are the media companies making off of us?" In a very democratic rally kind of way, Dr. Weaver added, "As it's members and providers of the content that drives the revenue of media companies, conferences, schools, and athletic departments must stand-up for themselves and fight for equality."
Day 2 of the Colloquium brought a lot of excitement because it was the day of our presentation. At about 8:45am, we took the stage. The presentation went very well and was a great experience to be able to stand up in front of some of the most knowledgeable and intelligent individuals in collegiate sport and present about one of the most well known and controversial cases of Title IX program cuts in recent memory.
Our presentation was followed by Keynote Speakers discussing topics such as "Financial and Related Issues Among Historically Black Colleges and Universities" presented by Melvin Johnson, President of Tennessee State University, and "The Effects of Economic Model of College Sport on Athlete Educational Experience" presented by Jeff Orleans, former Executive Director of the Council of Ivy Group Presidents (Director of the Ivy League Athletic Conference), Billy Hawkins, professor at the University of Georgia, and Jason Lanter, professor of Kutztown University. The analysis of the economic model of college sport was very fascinating as it was very relevant to the current events of the Colloquium. Addressing the effects that the current economic structure of the NCAA has on its athlete's education and the organizations desire to focus on the education of its athletes was very fascinating.
Our time at the Convention ended with the opportunity to attend the Keynote Luncheon, headlined by Keynote Speaker Dr. Shaquille O'Neil and NCAA President Mark Emmert.
My apologies for the very long post, but I found it very important that people understand what I gained from this amazing experience, and hopefully inspire other students to pursue research opportunities within Sport Management. Not only was our presentation one of the most highly rated submissions for this years Colloquium, Matt and I were the only undergraduate students to present at the event, which astonished many attendees, including us. I hope that others can look for and pursue chances to complete research and compose journal articles of scholarly material in the future and represent Drexel Sport Management at similar events.

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