Kansas City, MO. — Last weekend, NAIA presidents, commissioners and athletics directors took the unprecedented step of coming together to present, discuss and evaluate their perspectives on topics ranging from NAIA governance to student-athlete programming. The response by all participants to the expansion of this annual fall meeting was overwhelmingly positive!
The productive conversations and commitment to moving the NAIA forward were energized by the participation of Tevin Hopkins, the first student-athlete leader to sit on the COP. As co-chair of the Council for Student-Athletes and the chair of the Association of Student-Athletes, Tevin represented our more than 65,000 students and engaged with the COP, addressed the CCA and actively participated in the joint meetings.
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Joint COP/CCA/ADA Board Meetings
Two joint sessions provided a forum for all three groups to discuss important topics facing the association.
On Sunday, the NAIA governance structure and its impact on alignment of vision and goals, clarity of roles and communication were explored. The COP's Growth Advisory Panel will be embarking on a study of the governance framework with the intent of developing recommendations for addressing the challenges. Participants weighed in on drug education and testing challenges and concerns. The feedback was captured for use by the NAC subcommittee that will work on recommendations for compliance mechanisms for education and testing penalties for discussion during convention next April.
In the Five Seasons of Competition meeting, impact on student-athletes, graduation and retention rates, debt loads and the accountability being placed on higher education were among the shared perspectives. The COP later determined that funding of research on the topic was not in the best interest of the NAIA at this time.
Council of Presidents
Drug Testing & Education
The COP addressed several business items surrounding the status of drug education and testing at National Championships.
First, COP approved the responsibilities and composition of the National Drug Education and Testing Committee, a new standing committee created by convention legislation in April, with reporting lines to the National Administrative Council.
The National Drug Education and Testing Committee functions will review national championships drug testing policy, recommend to the NAC which championships and participants are tested, review and rule on testing exceptions and appeals and provide recommendations on educational programs to the Council for Student-Athletes. Representatives from the Athletics Directors Association, Athletic Trainers Association, Faculty Athletics Representatives Association, Conference Commissioners Association and National Administrative Council comprise the committee and are currently being recruited.
The COP reviewed the current status of drug education and testing, which requires institutions to participate in NAIA drug education for all student-athletes and initiates drug testing at NAIA championships in 2017-18. Currently, no compliance mechanisms for education or penalties for positive drug tests at national championships are in place.
The COP requested that the NAC appoint a committee that includes presidents to develop recommendations for education compliance and positive test penalties to be discussed at Convention 2016. The approach would provide time for communication, discussion and education before potential legislation on these subjects is presented at Convention 2017.
Five Seasons of Competition
A proposal was presented to fund research from a study group on the topic of expanding the NAIA's current four seasons of competition to five. Members of the COP discussed at length the pros and cons and agreed that dedicating significant resources to pursuing five seasons of eligibility was not in the best interest of the NAIA at this time. The pressures on NAIA institutions around graduation in four years and mounting student debt were among the many challenges discussed. The council thanked the study group for its work and also recognized the perspectives of those supporting further exploration.
The Conference Review Committee's recommendation for implementation of sanctions to conferences found deficient in the annual Conference Evaluation process was approved. Implementation of penalties was pushed back to the 2016-17 academic year.
Kent Henning, Grand View University, was elected as chair-elect to begin his term in January 2017.
The National Office membership team reported on its data and sales-driven recruitment activities, after which the COP discussed and endorsed the proactive approach.
After hearing reports on new initiatives including the NAIA Sports Showcase, the Arbiter officials training and InCred international credential evaluation service, the council recognized the National Office staff for its entrepreneurial spirit and encouraged continued innovation on behalf of student-athletes and the association.
Conference Commissioners AssociationThe CCA made a recommendation to the COP in support of the Conference Review Committee's proposal for applying sanctions to conferences found deficient in the annual Conference Evaluation process.
Conferences began the annual evaluation process in July 2013, and there was a two-year period before penalties for non-compliance would be recommended. The COP approved those penalties but the implementation of penalties was pushed back to the 2016-17 academic year.
In April, the CCA directed the National Office to form an officiating panel to discuss a number of topics, including how officials are selected to participate at national championships. The CCA approved multiple recommendations from the panel regarding selection of officials, which will be phased in during this academic year and 2016-17.
In the past year, the CCA has focused its meetings on professional development opportunities. In addition to roundtable discussions for group dialogue about commissioner obstacles and opportunities, CCA conducted several fall workshops:
* A look into the NCAA Division II approach to commissioner operations and its commissioners association was provided by Bob Boerigter, Commissioner of NCAA Division II Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
* Optimizing social media use to reach conference goals was the focus of a workshop led by National Office marketing staff.
* Three commissioners participated in a panel discussion of emerging and invitational sports at the conference level, and the challenges and benefits unique to non-championship conference sports.
ADA Board of DirectorsTwenty members of the board convened the first fall meeting in conjunction with scheduled meeting of the COP and CCA. The agenda covered a range of topics designed to move the ADA forward with planning and purpose.
ADA National Office Liaison Lynn Meredith shared that the NAIA will be expanding its partnership with NACDA to elevate the ADA's professional presence and expand services. NACDA will assist with newsletter distribution and NAIA-ADA exposure and online presence at NACDA events, with the goal of full engagement by all NAIA ADs.
With a standing-room only mentoring "interest" session at convention in April, Jeff Bain, Martin Methodist College, discussed the potential for serving the overwhelming interest shown by attendees from all campus roles. The board discussed the potential for supporting interest outside of the ADA and determined at this time that the mentoring program would be focused on ADs. The group will share its experiences and best practices in developing the mentoring activities with other groups within the NAIA.
Convention workshops & newsletter
Building on the success and positive response to the professional workshops at convention, the board brainstormed on key topics for the 2016 convention. An emphasis will remain on utilizing a diverse group of individuals as presenters. Quin Monahan, University of South Carolina-Beaufort, will continue to collect potential topics for the ADA-BOD to review.
Matt Sayre, Southern Oregon University, reported on the improved ADA Newsletter and received input for improvements and content ideas for future editions.
Keith Spataro, Menlo College, was appointed to represent the ADA on the National Drug Testing and Education Committee.