Former Ohio State Pres Gordon Gee suggests radical NCAA restructuring

The former Ohio State president tells the Chronicle of Higher Education that universities with larger athletic departments should compete in a separate division.

Rumors of fundamental change to the structure NCAA have been circling for months, and if former Ohio State President Gordon Gee has his way, fundamental change is exactly what we will get. In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, Gee, currently interim president of West Virginia University, suggested that the sixty or so largest athletic departments should abandon the existing NCAA structure to form a new group.

Gee stopped short of championing a complete split from the NCAA, instead leaving the creation of a fourth division as an option. He did, however, suggest the benefits of such a split, which he believes would allow for wholesale changes to the governance structure of college athletics.

It was during his time at the helm of the American Council on Education's National Commission on Higher Education Attainment, Gee tells the Chronicle, when he first saw the difficulties  associated with grouping together  a diverse collection of universities. He explains,  "It's not that they (the universities) shouldn't be in competition, but frankly, when they're all under the same tent, they pummel each other to death-whereas when you have some segregation with connectivity, you can have a much more powerful stringed organization."

Gee also expressed reservations about current NCAA President Mark Emmert, whom he believes has "lost his footing." It is Emmert's inability to work with powerful athletics officials, Gee believes, that has prevented him from making significant changes to the Association and its bureaucracies.

While somewhat famous for putting his foot in his mouth, this is one situation where Gee's comments should certainly be taken seriously. By themselves, they don't necessarily mean that change is coming. What they do represent is the continuation of a groundswell against the NCAA and its president. Where this groundswell will eventually lead remains unknown, but it is becoming more and more likely that the status quo will soon be a thing of the past.

To read the full interview, visit the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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