Letter from LEAD1 proposes appointing COO of college football

According to a lengthy letter from the LEAD1 Association obtained by ESPN, executives across collegiate athletics are considering appointing a college football chief operating officer who would report to a proposed FBS football board of directors.

The letter was sent to each Division I athletic director this week, and eventually to members of the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee, as well as the NCAA’s Board of Directors.

The proposal was circulated at the highest levels of college football, including the 10 FBS commissioners and College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock, sources said.

The detailed recommendations for the sport’s future governance are the culmination of months of discussions that began to bubble last spring when some of collegiate athletics’ most prominent voices, including Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith, lobbied for the College football is completely separate from the NCAA.

Any impetus for this changed in September when an overwhelming majority of Division I athletic directors at the annual LEAD1 meetings expressed their strong preference for keeping FBS football under the NCAA when it could be more streamlined and less bureaucratic.

Following the strong consensus at its fall meeting, LEAD1, which represents the 131 athletic directors in the FBS, set up a working group composed of representatives from all 10 FBS conferences.

According to the group’s proposal, the FBS Football Board would consist primarily of individuals with significant football knowledge and be appointed by their conferences. There would also be a representative from the American Football Coaches Association, along with four independent directors, including at least two former student athletes — a combination of open-minded people and those with a player’s perspective, which the Knight Commission separately urges.

The FBS Football Board would “decide all matters related to FBS football,” except for rules related to academics, financial aid, and health and safety. While the board would oversee things like the office, the rules, and possibly planning, many agree that there are issues that should remain at the university presidential level, and the NCAA would remain a legal protector.

The liability issues are at the heart of why most sports leaders want college football to remain under the NCAA. The NCAA currently has a football oversight committee, but six of the 18 members represent the FCS, and many athletic directors complain that they have various challenges that should be dealt with separately.

The COO would have a similar position to Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball. FBS soccer is currently the only collegiate sport governed by the NCAA but hosts its own national championship through the CFP. The NCAA addresses issues like rules, administration, concussion disputes and enforcement, but doesn’t have a person like Gavitt at the table when making important decisions about the sport. This proposed position would also be on the NCAA President’s Executive Team/Cabinet.

While LEAD1 does not have authority to implement any of the recommendations, this is another step in changing the way the sport of college football is governed as the NCAA undergoes sweeping changes to its own organization and more power to the individual conferences. The proposal also calls for the NFL to provide financial assistance, arguing “the NFL reaps the benefits of FBS football, which serves as its farm system, without providing financial assistance (and other resources) to the NCAA.”

It will likely take weeks to gather feedback, and the proposal would ultimately need approval from the Division I board. While the plan might be pushed back somewhat, there might also be some who would like to wait until the NCAA appoints a president to replace Mark Emmert before making such drastic changes to the sport’s structure. It’s also unclear who will have to vote for official approval, as there are differing legal opinions, according to sources.

The letter states, “If these recommendations are not implemented, our FBS ADs encourage consideration of options for such decision-making outside of the NCAA.”

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/35047242/letter-lead1-proposes-appointing-coo-college-football Letter from LEAD1 proposes appointing COO of college football

Emma Bowman

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