July 26, 2013
A lot of great questions this week, so let's go straight to the mailbag and updates on the issues that are most important to you...
Kurt (Dallas): Recently a commissioner of a major conference indicated that the relationship between the "Power 5" and the NCAA needed "major changes". Some have suggested that he was hinting at a possible break away from the NCAA. In other words, the "Power 5" would simply dissolve their affiliation with the NCAA and form their own organization. Do you see this as a possibility? What would be our response if such a scenario were to play itself out? Thanks.
Answer: I touched on this topic in last week's column, Kurt; however, let me expand my thoughts based upon your specific comments and questions.
In response to your first question, I do not think there is a high probability for conferences breaking away from the NCAA. There is a great deal of frustration with the existing governance structure; however, a complete break is riddled with potential risk and considered to be a last resort. I do believe that change is on the horizon, though. (See this column in today's Indy Star) The concept of a reorganization of the existing divisions/subdivisions is more likely and seems to be gaining some momentum with certain constituent groups.
In terms of our response to this potential scenario - and others - there are two things that are critical for us to be doing right now: 1.) actively participate in the dialogue in an effort to proactively influence and shape our future, and 2.) align our behaviors and decisions with the SMU Advantage. In particular, we must focus on initiatives aimed at expanding and enhancing attendance, participation (giving), branding, and competitiveness. The SMU community, in addition to our coaches, staff and student-athletes, plays a vital role in determining our immediate and long-term success.
While we compare very favorably nationally in academic quality, facilities, location, and personnel, we do not compare as favorably in areas such as ticket sales, attendance, and national brand awareness. It is important that the entire SMU community participates in creating an advantage for our programs through the purchase of tickets, attendance at events, donations to the Mustang Club, corporate sponsorships, etc. Such visible displays of support position us to compete for championships and be considered by the masses as a nationally competitive (and relevant) athletics program.
There are still many questions that must be answered before significant change can occur, including but not limited to: How will membership in this "new division" - if that is the outcome - be determined? What are the criteria for membership? Will athletics programs with similar budgets, championship-caliber facilities, metropolitan locations, Hall of Fame coaches and strong heritages be given an opportunity to continue to participate at the highest level in all sports? Will the existing tax status be threatened? What is the impact on gender equity and Title IX? Are there potential anti-trust issues to consider? How is the Bowl system impacted? The NCAA basketball tournaments? The College World Series? Or are these changes legislative in nature with minimum impact on the current competitive landscape? What effect does the outcome of the O'Bannon case have on all of this?
While these questions will not be immediately answered, one thing is for certain - the existing structure is antiquated and no longer serves the broad spectrum of participants throughout Division I Athletics. Our industry is fractured. Presidential control, institutional integrity and student-athlete welfare must continue as pillars of the collegiate model, but athletics directors must assume a more active role in shaping the future of college athletics. Rest assured, SMU will be represented as these conversations take place. (See American Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco's comments here.)
Chris (via Twitter): Will we ever have a Coaches' Caravan again? We always had a great turnout in Austin.
Answer: I think so, Chris. We just need to find the right time and format. When done right, caravans can be very beneficial and meaningful events.
Phillip (Houston): There has been some discussion in the past about some tangible recognition of Doc Hayes, the former basketball coach. With the renovation of Moody, will that happen?
Answer: The new Moody Coliseum presents a number of opportunities for us to honor our rich heritage, Phillip. There will be dedicated areas throughout the facility to recognize members of the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame as well as a broader range of coaches and letterwinners from all 17 sports. At this time, there is not a stand-alone display specific to Doc Hayes; however, he will certainly be featured among other Mustangs of distinction.
For progress photos of the renovation, click here.
John (Houston): Is there any interest in renewing the historic football competition with Rice?
Answer: This topic was addressed in my May 3rd column. Rice is a long-time regional rival and we hope to renew our series with them in the future, but unless something unexpected happens, it will be several years before our football schedule will accommodate another opponent, though. It is more likely that we will get them on the schedule in other sports in the short term.
Brad (via Twitter): Are you bringing the Mustang Club to the northeast this academic year? Having meeting coincide w/BB game would be nice.
Answer: We are exploring this possibility, Brad. The northeast is an important area for SMU. Hope to see you later this year!
Please keep your questions coming. Your input is important to me. Remember, if you have a question or concern, contact me through this form, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach me on Twitter at @AD_RickHart.
Until next week, Go Mustangs and Pony Up!
Rick Hart, Director of Athletics