A: “ think there’s a fine balance. … But I fully applaud this. It’s going to take several years, and there’s great effort to communicate with students and high schools about what the standards are and what courses need to be taken. … It’s such a disservice to student-athletes who either can’t do the work or get a college degree that isn’t worth anything. …
“There’s serious attention to whether this will negatively impact one group, particularly African-Americans. I think the answer is everyone needs to work to make sure they become student-athletes and that they have to know that in high school.”
Q: A year ago, adding a $2,000 cost-of-attendance stipend to scholarships appeared to be all but done. Now the NCAA has tapped the breaks. What happened?
A: “It’s a complicated issue. … There is not an equal playing field in all of Division I. Athletic budgets range from $10 million to $150 million. The assumption was when that was discussed and passed (preliminarily) was that conference by conference people would sort themselves out, and schools of lesser resource would choose not to (participate), that this was something that would not be forced but would be allowed.
“But in the competitive nature of things … schools felt like if that became the new edge of competition, then they would have to follow suit. And that’s where I think it’s fair to say big divisions came between better resourced and lower resourced institutions.
“Even at a place like Wake Forest, I think the additional $2,000 would cost us half-a-million dollars a year. … At the NCAA Convention last year, there was a committee of student-athletes, and they were adamantly opposed to it because a number of the members were from smaller schools, and what they said was there’s not going to be money in the budget for this, and the fear was it would come out of Olympic sports. And it wouldn’t be football or basketball that would suffer.
“So that’s the real debate, and it’s ongoing. There are some voices, even among bigger schools, that say with Pell Grants and so forth … the $2,000 (isn’t) needed, that even someone who comes from modest means has the resources to go to college.
“And I think the latest discussion is, if it would pass, it would have some kind of means testing. It might not go to everyone. ... On our campus I would say we’re sort of where the NCAA is on this. We’re betwixt and between. There’s not universal support for this. So I’m not sure what will happen.
“The proposal is designed as a student-welfare issue. The interesting thing about the press so often is they tend to forget, they tend to look at the big sports, football and basketball, and tend to forget that when you do things you’re talking about all student-athletes and you’re doing it for soccer and volleyball and lacrosse and tennis and rowing, sports which never can pay for themselves. The financial reality is, football is providing 80-85 percent of the external funding for everything.”
Q: Is the playoff coming to college football a positive change?
A: “I think it was positive, logical and showed a lot of common sense. There is huge interest in more of a playoff, but at the same time, by and large universities, and particularly their presidents and chancellors, do fear an extended season.
“It’s complicated by the decision made five, six years ago to go to 12 (regular-season) games. If that was not in place, it might be more probable. But it’s going to be very hard to pull that (12th game) back because everybody does that.
“(The playoff) builds upon the current bowls, and there’s a huge tradition there. There will be a certain controversy: How will these four teams be picked (by the selection committee)? … But I think like in basketball – I know from experience, our athletic director, Ron Wellman, is on that committee. … The amount of time that goes into that committee, people wouldn’t believe. I think a football committee would be similar.
“I think another thing that’s coming out of it is to reassert … New Year’s Day as a principle time when bowl games will happen. I think there’s been a dispersion of bowl games. They extend on into January. They’re midweek after most people have gone back to work.”
Q: Is expansion of the playoff inevitable?
A: “I’m not sure it is at least I have never seen among CEOs of universities a move to try to make this (bigger), because if you do that, you’re going to extend it into the second semester. I think one has to see how this system plays out.
“People love the bowl system. I do think there are too many bowls. … The NCAA has not wanted to get into the issue of how many bowls there are. I think there are anti-trust issues. People wouldn’t like to see a diminution of the overall bowl system that gives a lot of institutions and their fans and their student-athletes an opportunity to go to a bowl.
“If a playoff system were intended as a substitute for a broad bowl system I don’t think there would be a great deal of support for it.”
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