In The Press

  • "The NCAA Needs New Revenue—but Likely Won’t Get It From College Football"

    A major emphasis of the recently revealed recommendations from the NCAA’s transformation committee was for Division-I schools to boost their support of athletes. That includes improving travel, expanding the number of teams that play in postseason tournaments and having a full-time mental-health professional dedicated to varsity athletes at every college and university. 

    The NCAA hopes that new revenue will help support those efforts, especially at schools without access to top-tier football rights money to help fund their operations.

    Tom McMillen, president and CEO of the Lead1 organization that represents directors of athletic departments in the football bowl subdivision, said the group’s members haven’t developed a position on whether the CFP or other college-football entities should share revenue with the NCAA. 

    But Lead1’s members “understand that there is a misalignment,” McMillen said. “The NCAA is putting up a lot of resources and lots of costs and yet they’re not getting compensated for this.”

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  • "The Paul Finebaum Show - Tom McMillen on the Hiring of Gov. Charlie Baker"
  • "NCAA Targeting Political Firepower With President Pick"

    The NCAA has been begging for congressional intervention on a number of levels, most notably finding a path on player compensation that reins in the current unrestricted free agency. The colleges don’t want to make their athletes employees; they want uniform national legislation that would provide some control over their earning power and movement between schools. But outside of a few senators and representatives who have been involved in crafting proposed legislation, most of Washington D.C. has shown little interest in getting involved.

    Is the best way to get a political bailout hiring a politician as the new NCAA president? Could be. Perhaps the best person to ask is Tom McMillen, a former U.S. congressmen and college basketball player who now works with FBS athletic administrators at LEAD1. He knows both sides of the NCAA/D.C. equation.

    “Very good choice,” McMillen tells Sports Illustrated. “Inspired in many ways… he brings a lot to the table. Governor is no small task. The most important thing is he brings this political acumen to the table.

    “His constituency is now the 1,100 schools. He’s got to build trust and bonds with those schools. He’s got an interesting blend of qualities.”

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  • "Significant NLRB Move Will Aid Pursuit of College Athletes Becoming Employees"

    The National Labor Relations Board’s Los Angeles Region plans to pursue unfair labor practice charges against USC, the Pac-12 and the NCAA as single and joint employers of FBS football players and Division I men’s and women’s basketball players.

    Many administrators balk at the idea of turning college athletes into employees, but several know what’s coming, said Tom McMillen, the president of Lead1, a DC-based organization that represents the FBS athletic directors.

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  • "With Charlie Baker, the NCAA is Banking On A Political Path Of its Troubles"

    “That is what I mean when I say he understands politics — he understands assembling coalitions, whether that’s commissioners or 1,100 schools,” said former Maryland congressman Tom McMillen, the president and CEO of LEAD1, an advocacy group representing FBS athletic directors. “After he builds those bridges to his constituency, then he’ll be able to go to the legislatures and really speak with more authority.

    “Right now, the NCAA is kind of a battering ram. A lot of times, a lot of members (of Congress) don’t even want to see them.”

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  • "Purdue Fascinates, A Political Prez, FCS Fireworks, Bowl Stakes: Fortuna’s Cover 4"

    “You don’t always have to go for the home run,” McMillen said. “You get some singles and doubles done and that will make a big difference as well. Here’s a guy that ran a $50 billion state, he dealt with very complicated problems, from a higher education environment to transportation, you name it. Sports betting. He dealt with very complicated issues and so (he’s) perfectly equipped to deal with the process of the NCAA.”

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  • "Will New President Charlie Baker's Consensus Building Help NCAA Overcome its Steadily Diminishing Power?"

    “What he has is what most people don’t understand,” said Tom McMillen, CEO of LEAD1, the FBS AD organization, and a former Maryland Congressman. “When you say he’s political or has political acumen, that means he knows how to work with individuals. The biggest constituency he has is the 1,100 schools that heretofore have been pretty fragmented.

    “He’s got to get those folks behind him. Once he has that, then he can go to legislators and talk a whole different game. You don’t get to be the most popular Republican governor in a Democratic state by not being able to do that.”

    McMillen made a good point: It’s rare that a governor of the opposite legislative party in the state house can, well, get along with that body.

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  • "Tom McMillen Joins G&D, One Thought on Every NFL Game"

    Tom McMillen, President & CEO of LEAD1 Association, joins G&D to discuss the decision making behind the college football playoffs as well as the NCAA hiring a new President. Also, he has played in the NBA, and is a former American politician.

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  • "NCAA Reform On Capitol Hill: 6 Questions On the Prospects of Passage"

    “Many of the Republicans would be happy to have a national NIL bill and that is it, harmonize it, and let’s go home,” said Tom McMillen, a former Democratic Congressman who is now president of the Lead1 Association, which represents college athletic directors. “So, that is the delta which has been hard to bridge.”

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  • "How Wren Baker Became A "Star" Among Athletic Directors"

    Tom McMillen, a former congressman, NBA big man and NCAA All-American at Maryland, joins The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast, presented by Pritt & Spano, to answer that question.

    “He gets it,” McMillen said on The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast. “His teams won…He was always considered an up-and-comer in our association.”

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  • "Many OSU Football Fans Nervous As More Players Enter the NCAA Transfer Portal"

    The transfer portal is hotter than ever right now, giving players full freedom to explore their options since 2018. McMillen said that along with changes in name, image, likeness policies, it has made coaching more chaotic than ever.

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  • "Million Dollar Buyouts Expand to College Athletic Directors: Data Viz"

    Tom McMillen, CEO of the athletic director industry association LEAD1, says that because ADs are typically considered part of a university’s leadership—many carry the title of school vice president—they are almost always compensated relative to their boss, the president or chancellor, as opposed to their exceedingly well-paid subordinates coaching football and basketball.

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  • "College Sports' Overlooked Gambling Issue: Improprieties Being Ignored As Betting Soars Nationwide"

    That seemed to be exactly what the MAC was doing, and it made sense. Its partner, Genius Sports, is also the official data partner of the NFL and EPL.

    “I admire the MAC for doing it,” said Tom McMillen, CEO of Lead1 Association, which represents the FBS ADs. “I believe all the conferences will do it.”

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  • "LEAD1 Proposes Appointing COO of College Football"

    According to LEAD1’s proposal, the FBS football governing board “would primarily be comprised of people with significant football knowledge,” and appointed by their conferences.

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  • "Athletic Department Officials Within FBS Pushing For New Governance Model"

    Athletic department officials within the FBS are pushing for a governance model that includes a chief operating officer and an FBS governing board, according to a seven-page proposal from the LEAD1 Association obtained by The Athletic.

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  • "Letter From LEAD1 Proposes Appointing COO of College Football"

    The FBS football governing board would “decide all matters related to FBS football” except for rules related to academics, financial aid and health and safety. While the board would oversee things like officiating, rules and possibly scheduling, many agree there are issues that should remain at the level of university presidents, and the NCAA would remain a legal shield.

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  • "Sport Scene Interview with Tom McMillen"

    Tom McMillen, president and CEO of LEAD1 Association. joins Steve Russell to discuss the state of the NIL in College Basketball.

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  • "Examining Search Firm Placements and Diversity Hiring with LEAD1, MOAA and the Black AD Alliance"

    Lots to unpack from the full conversation as McMillen and Johnson explain the genesis of the idea, the biggest obstacles related to DEI issues in coaching, where in the pipeline the process is breaking down, the potential for expanding the WCC’s Russell Rule nationwide, how presidents and ADs are reacting to the hiring data, what the landscape might look like in five years and more.

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  • "Transfer Portal's Impact Evident With Early-Season College Football Firings"

    “If you’re a coach hired by a school today, it used to be you have to give that coach a few years because recruiting would have to kick in and you can’t have overnight success because it took some time,” said McMillen. “Now, an AD has an earlier window as to whether a coach will be successful or not.”

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