FBS ADs Urge Collegiate Football Reform, But Not Separation From NCAA

Washington The athletic directors who lead the schools that play Division I college football at the highest level want the sport to continue under the rule of the NCAA — if that provision could be simplified.

LEAD1, a football subdivision advertising association, held 105 of its 131 members Wednesday at a meeting that focused mostly on how best to manage college football.

There has been some momentum in the past year to explore FBS’s chapter away from the NCAA and create another structure to operate the largest source of revenue in college sports.

For now, however, the preference is to reform within the existing structure.

“At the end of the day, it was very clear that the status quo was unacceptable,” said Tom McMillen, president and CEO of LEAD1, a basketball star and former Maryland congressman. “And there was a strong, very strong, preference for a model in the NCAA that was too streamlined and much less bureaucratic.”


“And if that can’t be achieved, move it abroad,” McMillen added.

McMillan did not elaborate on what a more efficient governance model for major college football would entail.

He said LEAD1 plans to collect the ideas formulated at Wednesday’s meeting and share them with NCAA officials in a letter.

“We are mediators, not the decision maker,” McMillen said. “Recommend. That’s really just how much we can do.”

The NCAA is in the midst of what college sports leaders hope will be an overhaul of the way Division One is organized and governed.

The Division I Transformation Committee was formed last year and has been meeting regularly for months. It is led by Southeast Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio Athletic Director Julie Cromer, who is also a LEAD1 member.

“Today’s discussion certainly was helpful,” Cromer said. “I think we’ll use those comments in the work of our transformation committee.”


The Transition Committee has already made proposals regarding transfer rules and how the NCAA implementation works as part of its first phase of work. A set of those proposals were approved last month.

A second phase is underway, with membership requirements for schools, student-athlete benefits, access to tournament events and revenue distribution at the core of the discussions.

“I think there is some frustration with the lack of responsibility and ability to be smart and specific to our needs in football, within the current decision-making structure,” Cromer said of FBS ADs.

As the NCAA’s role in governance has been de-emphasized, and more authority has been transferred to conferences and schools, it seemed an ideal time to re-evaluate how major college football works for many athletic directors.


The NCAA has limited participation on FBS compared to the rest of the Division I sports. Conferences run the College Football Playoff and share hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue without NCAA involvement.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has proposed that the college football playoff become the governing body for major college football.

“Nothing in its current constitution supports that,” Notre Dame sporting director Jack Swarbeek told The Associated Press last month. “So you can change him to play that role. But he is not set up to do that right now.”

One concern about moving away from the NCAA is the need to create a similar new organization.

McMillan said the NCAA spends about $65 million annually on administrative and insurance costs.

“That doesn’t include any kind of unusual or legal costs,” McMillen said. “You know, the NCAA is the legal shield. It’s taking a lot of the front load.”


The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an independent group of past and current college officials who advocate for an emphasis on education in college sports, Proposed in 2020 to separate FBS from the rest of the NCAA sports.

Sankey said he is strongly against the jockey committee’s proposal, in large part because he doesn’t like the idea of ​​dividing a single sport within a sports division.

Sankey attended the LEAD1 meeting to give the announcements an update on the work of the transformation committee.

He said he also shared ads in his doubts about the effectiveness of FBS’ split from the NCAA. He said he understood the desire for change.

“Given the differences around football, there are those who view that as a relevant point of change,” Sankey said. “But then, why, and the results, have to be further developed.”



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