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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

WSU prez: NCAA needs reform, not replacement

As the preferred structure of future NCAA governance remains debatable in college athletics, Washington State president Kirk Schulz on Thursday emphasized a need for the national organization and urged others to have patience as new leadership attempts to navigate its member schools through a critical and transformative time.

“It’s easy to throw hand grenades at the NCAA,” Schulz said on a Pac-12 media videoconference. “Schools do, presidents do, lots of people do. But at the end of the day, we need an organization that puts on championships, that does do some rules setting and handles enforcement. If you get rid of the NCAA — whatever that looks like — guess what? You’ve gotta stand up a separate organization that’s going to have those same functions and will have some of the same frustrations.

“As soon as anybody has to do enforcement, trust me — the school that is being investigated isn’t going to feel good about that,” he said. “I think the idea that we’re going to start seeing a bunch of conferences or schools break away from the NCAA and start their own grouping — whatever that is — I think at some point you just re-create the NCAA. Why not reform what’s there as opposed to let’s go re-create something?”

Schulz’s comments came one day after a high-ranking university official told ESPN there are some presidents and chancellors in the SEC and Big Ten who feel “very strongly” about pulling away from the NCAA.

“That’s an option that’s on the table,” the source said. “… It would be irresponsible on our part if we weren’t looking at a new governing process. There’s so much uncertainty happening in the world of college athletics. Do we want to continue this, or is there a better way of doing things? Yes, those conversations are out there.”

Those conversations tie into the ongoing discussions about the future of the College Football Playoff, as its leadership is considering what the format should look like starting in 2026. The CFP will have a 12-team playoff beginning this season and next, but the future is a blank slate. The CFP’s management committee is currently focused on a 14-team format. Before the presidents and chancellors can agree to a new TV deal with ESPN for the next eight years, they need to decide what the format will be, how teams will qualify for it and whether they are all working together under the NCAA umbrella.

Schulz, who represents the Pac-12 on the CFP’s board of managers, said his conversations with fellow university presidents over the past few months have reflected a general appreciation for new NCAA president Charlie Baker.

“Whether people like all of the proposals coming out or not, you’ve got to applaud the leadership there is saying, ‘Hey, we recognize people want to see something different out of the NCAA, and we’re going to respond to that,'” Schulz said. “It’s too early not to give Charlie the opportunity to continue to help lead and modify what the NCAA does and how it works with schools.”

New Pac-12 commissioner Teresa Gould, who now represents the conference on the CFP management committee, said the commissioners are “aligned” in their desire to develop a plan that has “adaptability.”

“I think none of us would have ever anticipated the amount of change that is going on right now,” she said in her introductory news conference. “Yesterday looks different than today. And who knows what the headline is going to be tomorrow. So our job collectively as the leadership of the CFP is to make sure that, whatever plan it is, that we have a plan that is adaptable and nimble to the changing times that we’re in. And that is one of the conversations that I want to make sure we continue to have in that room.”

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