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Kansas State president: Open up governance dialogue to media

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Here's a switch in the usually closed-door NCAA process: A prominent member of the steering committee directing governance restructuring says such meetings should be open to the media.

"I will say this very freely. I have talked to the NCAA staff ... we have to acknowledge the sports media world has changed dramatically from 10 years ago," Kansas State president Kirk Schulz said. "I want leading sports journalists in the room during this kind of stuff."

Schulz is one of the seven members of the Division I Steering Committee charged with reconfiguring how the NCAA does business. He has been the Kansas State CEO since 2009.

The committee is expected to next meet by conference call this week and should have a new model ready for consideration by the membership next month. Restructuring could be completed by August.

But to have media in the room monitoring every move? The idea seemed to work January at the NCAA Convention. Media were invited to attend a two-day governance dialogue.

The decision to open further meetings to the media would have to be made by the NCAA board of directors, according to an NCAA spokesman. The governance restructuring discussion is expected to be a seminal moment in NCAA history.

"If we do the old style, which is closed, and put out some sort of press release at the end," Schulz said, "people have already been on Twitter for five hours talking about the same sort of thing."

Schulz added that it would help if the media understood first-hand how the NCAA gets to a new governance model. The membership is working hurriedly to adjust with the Big 5 conferences (Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, SEC) demanding more autonomy in how the NCAA operates.

The voting structure is definitely expected to change with those BCS schools having more power.

"Everybody recognizes at the end of the day we gotta have each other," Schulz said. "But we don't have to let the University of Texas-Corpus Christi decide what the University of Texas is going to do. We have way too much of that kind of thing going on."

The large conferences want that autonomy so they aren't bogged down by NCAA bureaucracy. There has been a wide-ranging discussion about student-athlete welfare. That could mean everything from schools being able to provide three meals a day at training table to a cost-of-attendance stipend.

On the media issue, Schulz added: "If somebody says [to media], 'Here's a little bit of constraint. It doesn't mean you can't write a story but don't identify the people.' OK, I can live with that but I'll [as a media member] be there for eight hours because I want to hear the deliberations.

"Some of the NCAA communications members I've talked with say, 'Kirk keep preaching it because we know that's what we've got to do.' "

In its overview for governance redesign the NCAA itself describes the process as encouraging, "open, transparent and interactive dialogue."

In an August 2013, the NCAA board decided to move forward with governance restructuring. Board chairman Nathan Hatch, president of Wake Forest, appointed that steering committee.

In addition to Schulz and Hatch, the other members are Gene Block, UCLA chancellor; Rita Cheng, SIU-Carbondale; Michael Drake, chancellor, Cal-Irvine; David Leebron, president, Rice and Harris Pastides, president, South Carolina.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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