College of William and Mary Athletic Director Terry Driscoll spoke to the Board of Visitors Committee on Athletics Thursday about changes being made in the NCAA governance that may negatively impact the College.
Recently, the 65 universities that make up the Big Five conferences petitioned for greater autonomy within the NCAA, which would allow them to funnel more resources into areas like athlete healthcare, nutrition, financial aid and general expenses, such as travel costs for athletes’ families.
Driscoll said that, while these policies would be classified as permissive legislation — meaning that not all schools would be obliged to adhere to them — they could still be harmful by virtue of the College’s financial inability to compete.
“Once you drop down below these 65 schools, there are nearly 280 other schools in Division I with nowhere near the resources that these schools have,” Driscoll said. “So, although these Big Five schools won’t directly impact William and Mary, when you move down to the 280-odd schools, you run into a situation where there are people who we currently compete against who, if they choose to utilize some of these elements of permissive legislation, they’ll have a recruiting advantage.”
Although the legislation has already passed in the NCAA, it is now in the midst of an override period in which other schools in the Division can vote to strike down the legislation. The override period will extend through October and if the legislation passes — Driscoll said he expects that it will — it will take effect in November.
The Big Five have alluded to their intention to secede from the NCAA if their autonomy to make these changes is not granted. College President Taylor Reveley, however, portrayed this not as a threat, but rather as an opportunity to expose the proposed legislation’s insolvency.
“I, frankly, would love to see these five conferences go out on their own, at which point, I think, the system would be broken because they would be subject to enormous additional scrutiny and tax reforms … that we would stop seeing this incredibly asinine amount of money being spent in these five conferences,” Reveley said.
Reveley was also the first at the meeting to question the morality of dramatically increasing privileges for a single group of students.
“I think there is a real philosophical issue too, that would be to create a cast of kids who get better treatment than everybody else,” he said.
BOV secretary Thomas Frantz also brought up issues of inequality, but within the community of College athletes rather than among students overall. He said problems would arise with Title IX compliance if the College were unable to offer athletes of every sport the same kinds of benefits.
“Title IX is going to drive those benefits home, and how in the world can the revenues cover all of those expenses for the non-revenue sports?” Frantz said.
Before the meeting went into closed session, Driscoll briefly discussed plans for the renovation of Zable Stadium. He said construction will begin this winter and the stadium will be ready for the 2016 season.