NCAA Convention Floor Remarks

NCAA Convention, Floor Remarks

Betsy Mitchell, Olympic medalist and NCAA swimming champion student athlete for the University of Texas; Former Coach, Dartmouth College; Director of Athletics, California Institute of Technology

I speak against the motion on the principal of integrity.

Expanded membership on the board of governors, does not ensure better leadership or management to correct a problem in a very small sub-section of our large and diverse organization.  Our current governance structure has not exhausted attempts to manage the problem in other ways; the problems this small sub group have are already identified and have significant resources available, both organizationally, and on member campuses.  I believe the answer, lies squarely on ethical leadership… integrity of governance… and more to the point… on the current people who are not following the letter and spirit of rules. We have also not seen serious… real… individual… corrective or punitive consequences for the egregious unprofessional behavior, lets try that first. 

Presidents and athletic directors, those with administrative and supervisory oversight of programs, are charged with being the objective, external and professional eyes.  Please just do your jobs.  A major part of the reason that our culture exerts the pressures of professionalism on our collegiate endeavors is because we let it.  Dollars, and the escalation of program, facility, recruitment and SALARIES are not more important than the experience of the students.  Dial down the arms race that produces the pressure that SOME students and MANY coaches feel.   I believe that this request to add external voices to the board of governors is unnecessary, but also it creates more separation among the divisions. The D1 minority truly is overreaching its boundaries rather than supporting broad common philosophies. Educators, administrators and students can solve these problems with some backbone.  Integrity in leadership is the answer, not a larger board far removed from the actual pressures and bad behavior.

I also speak against the motion because of the hypocrisy at play in our organization.

There have been issues that have arisen in D3, and perhaps D2, over the past fifteen years for sure and likely longer, that have been pushed aside when we sought association wide votes.  We were ruled out of order and not even allowed the voice on this floor to pursue our sub-group issue.  The haughty manner in which the governance structure has prepared for this vote by strong arming members of our division is disgraceful.  The PR blitz, the ‘voter registration support’ the reminders with clear voting instructions, treat this membership as if we are sheep rather than professionals that we are.  The subtext of retaliation on future matters if we don’t fall in line is base behavior, further outlining that this is not the voice of campus, of educators, or of administrators of students’ best interest.  Fine, money talks, I get it; but we jump through a lot of hoops trying to convince ourselves, and others, that we are a part of the academy, and extension of the classroom and enhancement to education.  These tactics illustrate the problem that the entertainment perspective and emphasis on money connected with the minority of our sports are driving the whole rather than sound educational philosophy that our mission and rule books espouse.  This is the problem, not the positional make up of the board of governors.  

Yes, we are at a critical moment re: the defacto public trust we hold for collegiate sports; the answer is standing up for mission driven programs to focus on education not entertainment through integrity of leadership. I speak against the motion, please join me in voting no and then lets get back to work trying to address the real problems.

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