I’m back from vacation, but still on the road, here in Houston to cover the UH football team’s game at Rice.
It was interesting to get insights from Rice president David Leebron about the changes coming in big-time college sports having to do with autonomy for the most powerful conferences (the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12). Leebron served on the NCAA governance committee that discussed and recommended changes like allowing for schools to pay total cost of attendance for student-athletes.
A bit of this was covered in today’s column, as well as Leebron’s connection to Hawaii early in his law career. Here is more of what he had to say about the changing landscape of college athletics:
“I think overall the effect of the governance changes will be to simplify some of the over-complex and intrusive rules, and allow some important benefits for student athletes, not only while they are in school, but after they graduate. We can’t try to establish a ‘level playing field’ by micro-managing every expense that goes toward student athletes while allowing other large expenses to go essentially unchecked and unregulated. There certainly is, however, a risk of an arms length that not only spirals further out of control, but also brings further into question the notion of student athletes. It will in some sense be up to the five “high resource” conferences to discipline themselves, and try to find their way back to a true sense of the student athlete and the true collaborative values of inter-collegiate athletics.”
I also asked Leebron about the new unlimited feeding of student-athletes.
“As for training tables, I can’t speak to the University of Hawaii. I have no doubt that some schools will go overboard on the types of food they offer athletes. We are already seeing that. In many cases, this further separates athletes from the rest of the student body. At Rice, we reject that idea, and seek to adopt practices that not only integrate the athletes into the student body, including meals, but also seek to provide student-athletes with the full range of options that other students have. Many schools are losing sight of that important idea. We want to celebrate student-athletes not only because of their own character and achievements, but also because of the positive influence they can have on other students.”