On April 9 the commissioners of the Group of Five Conferences (AAC, MAC, Sunbelt, Conference USA, and MWC) sent a letter to NCAA President, Mark Emmert, asking for consideration of a reduction in DI sports sponsorship minimums. 130 schools currently play 85-scholarship football and their sponsorship minimum is 16. The only reason to seek this reduction is to drop sports.
On Saturday, April 18, the AVCA, along with a group of other coaches’ associations, hired the New York-based public relations firm, Counter Point, to assist us with messaging to derail this initiative. Our time is short. The DI Council meets April 23-24 and the DI Board of Directors meets April 29-30.
During the next two weeks we will need you! We will be sending messaging through Twitter and ask you to share, comment and pass along to your followers and fans. Our goal is a statement from those in leadership positions in DI that reductions of opportunity for Olympic sport student-athletes is not the answer to our current crisis.
We are not tone-deaf to the difficulties in higher education caused by this pandemic. We have had coaches furloughed, we have seen travel restrictions, cancelled conference tournaments, delayed returns to campus, hiring freezes and salary reductions. A sport can recover from a reduced schedule, a shortened season, a smaller staff or even scholarship cuts, but a team cannot recover from elimination.
Title IX will protect women’s sports to a degree; twice as many men’s sports have been dropped in the last 10 years. Sitting out this protest banking on this protection, however, is shortsighted. Allowing disinvestment in DI in the hopes that your program will survive devalues sports on college campuses. This is not the time for ‘save yourself’ thinking but for collective action that aggregates our voices and shows those in leadership positions that people care about our sports.
Let’s be there for each other!
Hopefully you have seen some of the videos circulating from Karch Kiraly and Kerri Walsh that appeal to the NCAA to Save College Sports. We have two requests:
Our time is short: the DI Council will discuss this on Friday, April 24 and the DI Board of Directors early next week. We must show the NCAA leadership that there is broad support for Olympic sports.
USAV is fully on board and supporting this initiative.
Thanks for your support, leadership and help,