March Madness was a tremendous success for the NCAA. There was plenty of excitement, great games and a wonderful display of talented student-athletes. However, despite the success and popularity of the basketball tournament, the NCAA is often criticized for being slow and reactive in making changes to college sports.
The fact is that the president of the NCAA is not a pro league commissioner who can rule by edict. There are over 1200 schools in the NCAA and they all have some voice in the governance of the Association. In addition, while the NCAA controls the basketball tournament and other postseason tournaments, it does not control the premier football championship, the College Football Playoff, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars for conferences and member institutions. While the NCAA is charged with legislating the rules for football and enforcing these rules, it does not share in the revenue generated from the College Football Playoff.
It is this fragmentation which creates challenges for college sports in moving aggressively to address the problems facing it. Leadership by consensus of many diverse parties is a difficult process.
The NCAA Board of Governors is composed of 16 college presidents and chancellors. In January, the Association voted to add five independent directors to inject new perspectives and greater diversity of experience and objectivity to the Board of Governors. These new directors should be named soon and hopefully, this step will improve the governance of college sports.
The NCAA demonstrated expedited leadership when they passed sweeping changes last August in response to the FBI college basketball investigations and recommendations by the Rice Commission.
Let’s hope with the change to the Board of Governors, that this momentum for change will continue.