Valparaiso University Athletic Director Mark LaBarbera will represent the Horizon League on a newly-created NCAA council. The Division I Council deals with day-to-day business such as legislation and championships. December 2, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The newest level of leadership in Division I is set – and it includes current student-athletes.
The division's Board of Directors has appointed the first members to serve on the Division I Council. For the first time, student-athletes will cast votes on NCAA rules.
The Council is charged with conducting the day-to-day business of Division I. At its first meeting in January 2015, the Council will elect an athletics director to chair the group. That person will also serve on the board.
Devon Tabata, who competes in a women's soccer at Duquesne University, and Dustin Page, who competes in men's soccer at Northern Illinois University, will serve on the Council beginning in January. Tabata and Page are vice-chairs of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
“Appointment to the Council as a student-athlete representative is not only a tremendous honor, but also an important step for the voice of student-athletes,” Page said. “I am grateful for the opportunity, as it is a result of a lot of hard work done by student-athletes who have come before me. Moving forward, it will be as important as ever to solicit feedback from all in order to ensure a unified voice.”
Tabata called the move to the new governance structure an “exciting” time for students and a “huge step in the right direction” that will allow better communication among national, conference and school Student-Athlete Advisory Committees.
“My hope for the opportunity to serve with Dusty as the student-athlete representatives to the Council is to have the student-athlete voice carry more weight than ever,” she said.
Well-known athletics directors Dan Guerrero from the University of California, Los Angeles; Jim Phillips from Northwestern University; and Mitch Barnhart from the University of Kentucky will serve on the inaugural Council, along with conference commissioners Bob Bowlsby from the Big 12 and Bernadette McGlade from the Atlantic 10.
Brian Shannon, faculty athletics representative from Texas Tech University, will represent the Division IA FARs on the Council. Stephen Perez, FAR at California State University, Sacramento, will represent the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association. Shannon is a law professor and Perez is a professor of economics.
The Council was appointed at the recommendation of a board subcommittee, formed after the original slate of nominees for the group lacked an appropriate level of diversity. The subcommittee that created the new slate had some lingering reservations about whether faculty members were appropriately represented, and the subcommittee has recommended the board continue to explore ways to expand the number of faculty on the Council.
To that end, the Board will consider policies in January that will enhance future opportunities for FARs and senior woman administrators to be appointed to the Council.
Board chair Nathan Hatch, president at Wake Forest University, said he hopes the new structure will provide ways to keep the division unified while also allowing the 65 schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences to support student-athletes in a variety of ways.
“I hope that the five conferences can work together to support their student-athletes and become more accountable to each other that they are educating and graduating students who will be prepared for meaningful lives,” Hatch said. “I would also hope that these conferences will pursue their distinct challenges in ways that enhance the work of all schools in Division I.
The Council replaces the current Legislative and Leadership councils, and 60 percent of Council members must be athletics directors. Any rules adopted by the Council will be subject to a review by the board.
The group's first order of business will be to design the subgroups that will assist in developing legislation, running championships and performing other necessary functions. The group will meet in January to begin that work.
The Council will cast votes on new rules for the first time in the 2015-16 legislative cycle.
In related developments, Division I SAAC chair Kendall Spencer, a track and field student-athlete at the University of New Mexico, will be the first student-athlete to serve on the Division I Board of Directors.
Other new board members include: Bud Peterson, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology; Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; Jeffery Herbst, president of Colgate University; George Wright, president of Prairie View A&M University; Samuel Stanley, president of Stony Brook University; Jane Miller, senior associate athletics director at the University of Virginia (representing the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators); and Christine Copper, vice president at the U.S. Naval Academy (representing the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association).