It can be safe to assume that the NCAA is in the midst of a public crisis. Continued allegations and a culminating FBI investigation surrounding the payment and professional endorsements of college basketball players have shined a negative spotlight on the organization and how it handles it’s affairs.
However, not all hope is lost, members of the NCAA’s Board of Governors and executive committee are hard at work to try and revamp the organization’s culture while increasing diversity and input from colleges across the nation. One of the influencers leading the charge is Adrian College’s own President Jeffrey Docking, who is the current Division III chair on the NCAA’s Board of Governors.
“As chairman I felt like I needed to take a position,” said President Docking. “I needed to get the word out, and it needed to be a position that was supportive of reimagining the future of college basketball, so that the public doesn’t lose confidence and that the integrity of the game stays.”
President Docking hopes to achieve this change by starting at the top. Recently, he penned a column in the NCAA Champion Magazine urging a vote to increase the level of Division III seats on the Board of Governors. This, Docking hopes, will provide greater diversity and perspective for the NCAA when it comes to their Division III counterparts.
“When I said we (the Board of Governors) needed more diversity I meant it in a number of different ways,” says Docking. “I meant diversity in terms of people’s understanding of college sports, more Division III minded people, more people from the business world and from other areas of the public who understand sports from a different perspective beyond just college presidents.”
The added voice, Docking states, is essential to allow smaller institutions to expand their impact in an organization that’s mostly dominated by Division I universities, which, Docking states, creates a sort of disconnect and lack of understanding.
“Division I (athletics) is very different from Division III,” said Docking. “We can’t offer scholarships. We are, in my opinion, the true essence of intercollegiate competition as it was meant to be 100 years ago when the NCAA was founded: the student comes first, then the athlete comes second.”
While the proposal seems concrete, there are still hurdles it must go through in order to achieve a two-thirds majority vote from the Board of Governors in January, 2019. President Docking informed me that a similar proposal to expand the number of Division III seats on the Board was introduced a few years back, but did not reach the required number of votes for it to pass. The result caused some of the members of the Board to be doubtful towards President Docking’s proposal, but the surrounding hesitancy will not stifle him. Even Adrian College athletic director Mike Duffy has endorsed Docking’s plan.
“He (Duffy) just needed to be educated on why this matter was so important,” said Docking. “85 to 90 cents of every dollar the NCAA raises to run it’s programs is made on the March Madness basketball tournament. It totalled about $1 billion last year. Division III schools see about $34 million of that money. If we didn’t see that money anymore, each college would lose about $75,000 a year. So Mike understood how important this issue was.”
If President Docking’s proposal passes the Board of Governors vote this coming January, the result will give Division III athletics a greater voice in the NCAA. If that were to happen, President Docking already has ideas on what types of individuals should grace the new seats.
“I don’t have specific names,” said Docking. “But I do have specific criteria. I want people who have either played Division III athletics or are closely related to it. People with racial diversity, and have some affiliation with amatuer athletics outside of Division I.”
New members, a new Board, a new outlook, all leading to what some have said needed to happen decades ago for the betterment of college athletics: a new NCAA.