The Indianapolis-based Horizon League has begun hosting March Madness games at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Just three months on the job, league Commissioner Julie Roe Lach had to begin her new role in the most unusual of circumstances.
“We developed what is probably a 50-page document. It includes testing. It includes screening. It even includes how teams travel, where they eat, where they don’t eat,” said Roe Lach. “This season, our men’s teams played over 90% of their scheduled games, which is well above the national average that’s in the 70s.”
Roe Lach sat down with Around INdiana Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman during a special all women’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Roe Lach says the state of college sports has dramatically changed just in the last five years. However, she says the change is less for those working in sports or the experience of student-athletes and more regarding the interest surrounding college sports.
“You now have over five federal bills being proposed on all ends of the spectrum, primarily around this name, image, likeness. The NCAA members support student-athletes being able to make money off their name, image, likeness. There are some senators who think it needs to go much further and others who might even think it needs to be more restrictive, but there is some level of federal intervention that’s going to happen, likely at some point this year.”
She says the federal intervention is the biggest threat to collegiate sports because it could change the entire model.
“And if that model changes to the point of looking at literally, ‘Should there be compensation or profit sharing?’ The reality is there are not a lot of profits to share and that then could cause schools to drop sports. And that, to me, is what we all want to avoid because we want to keep providing all these opportunities.
The Illinois native became a Division III All-American at Millikin University, which led to an internship with the NCAA. Roe Lach worked her way up to vice president of enforcement for the Indianapolis-based organization before being named the first female commissioner of the Horizon League.
She says she wants young women interested in a career in sports to know there are no jobs too small.
“It is all hands on deck in sporting events…if your mission at the end of the day is to provide this opportunity to compete. Whether it’s at the rec level or the collegiate level or the professional levels, then everyone has to be all in on what it’s going to take to provide that opportunity.”