Report on D-I reform to be delivered at NCAA convention

LAS VEGAS -- The NCAA's Division I transformation committee is scheduled to provide a final report and recommendations on its work regarding standards for membership, championship access and governance during the association's convention on Jan. 12.

"The mission was to modernize Division I for today's reality and to position it to enhance the student-athlete experience going forward," Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer said Wednesday during a session at the Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Forum.

Some of the changes the Division I Board of Directors could implement next year include creating more sport-specific governance with additional oversight committees, similar to those used for basketball and football.

The committee has been meeting weekly with some exceptions since last January.

Division I includes 363 schools with a wide-range of athletic budgets from hundreds of millions of dollars to barely $10 million.

Cromer said the goal is to ensure the student-athlete experience is as consistent as possible across Division I given the disparity of resources.

There was some concern when this process started it would lead to some smaller schools and conferences being pushed out of Division I or that the biggest and wealthiest schools and conferences would create a new subdivision.

"We have committed to a big tent philosophy," said Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey, who co-chairs the transformation committee with Cromer.

"Students who are recruited in Division I should have the same elements as part of their day-to-day experience," Cromer said. "It may look different on one of Greg's campuses than it does on my campus as it does on another campus. But there are basic fundamental expectations and commitments that should be made to student-athletes if you want to have a Division I experience."

The transformation committee is not working specifically on expanding the NCAA men's basketball tournament, but determining how many schools should be able to qualify for a sport's championship event could influence the future of March Madness.

A broad recommendation to allow about 20% of schools that sponsor a sport to compete in its championship tournament would still need to be considered on a sport-by-sport basis before it would be implemented.

"I would say on the continuum of all that needs to be adopted in Division I college athletics, transfer transformation committee will have provided a really effective boost," Sankey said. "But there will be a need for continuing change."