WSU president pushes for new NCAA football format
In an interview with The Guardian last week, Wright State President and NCAA Board of Directors member David Hopkins said that a new format for Division I football would be beneficial in supporting student-athletes.
Hopkins said he likes the current format for other sports, including men’s basketball, but said that the large football powerhouses might need their own division for football only.
“People make a lot of money off intercollegiate sports but the perception is that the universities are making big money,” Hopkins said. “Well, very few are, and now with these big TV contracts coming supposedly, there are about five conferences, the so called “BCS conferences”, where they are making any money. And maybe 40 schools out of 341 [have profitable athletic departments] and they want to paint the brush that everyone is like that.”
Wright State is in with the majority of NCAA Division I institutions, since as much of its $10 million annual budget is subsidized by general funds from the university. None of Wright State’s competitors in the Horizon League are turning a profit, according to NCAA figures.
The topic of NCAA reform will be at the forefront at the annual NCAA Convention in San Diego. What Hopkins is looking for, is a structure that will allow the institutions that are concerned about making money to profit while not damaging institutions that are not as concerned about using sports as a source of revenue.
“They are falling into more of a commercialization path than an intercollegiate athletic path,” Hopkins said about institutions with large athletics departments. “[We need to] rethink the structure as we don’t need to inhibit a small portion of institutions because we are not them.”
Part of the problem with collegiate athletics, according to Hopkins, is that it has become more about entertainment and less about developing student-athletes.
“Look at the growth of ESPN and all of the sports media and all of the advertisements around sports,” Hopkins said. “I love sports, but it cannot be the dominant part of our culture.”
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive has been a vocal critic of the NCAA and its board of directors. Slive has called for a number of reforms over the last year.
“What is the proper role, function and composition and size of the NCAA board of directors?” Slive said. “Do we need all of the services provided by the NCAA’s national office, its many committees and task forces, or are some of these services better provided elsewhere? And how do we streamline the NCAA committee and legislative processes to provide leaders and visionaries who will ensure the NCAA’s future?”
Hopkins disputed Slive’s claim, saying he is the minority as 11 of the 18 members come from the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision conferences.
“Today, the NCAA board and the way things are run and the way representation is, it favors these big conferences because they are afraid of losing control of the money,” Hopkins said. “I think we have to get to a point where the money isn’t what everyone is talking about and we get back to the purpose is which is getting everyone to the finish line.”
Hopkins said that with all of the possible reforms coming to the NCAA, current Wright State student-athletes have nothing to fear with all of the changes.
“Our student-athletes have no fear here of anything negative happening from the NCAA restructuring. Anything that is restructured is going to be more these institutions that are becoming more commercialized.”