Broncos Athletics

Levick Selected to NCAA Strategic Planning Group

April 14, 2003

By David Pickle
The NCAA News

From the moment Myles Brand assumed the NCAA presidency in October 2002, he emphasized the importance of strategic planning.

In the first minutes after his October 10 selection, Brand said: "Over the next year, I will bring about a planning process with wide involvement that will help map the future of intercollegiate athletics."

Two months later, in his first State of the Association address, Brand said: "In order to march down the road, we need a road map. That map is the strategic plan. Through an inclusive, timely, value-driven process, I propose we develop strategic directions that will lead to our goals."

Brand has made good on his promises. A "plan for the plan" has been developed, and the first membership input has been solicited. The target date for strategic-plan implementation: April 2004.

Four-phase plan
Between now and then, every major NCAA constituency will be asked to contribute and react to the plan as it takes shape. Moreover, in keeping with Brand's promise to make the process inclusive, key relationships inside and outside the Association will be kept informed throughout all stages.

Because the task involves so many issues and must touch so many people and organizations, the NCAA has retained outside assistance from Tecker Consultants of Trenton, New Jersey. The NCAA and Tecker have constructed a plan that will use four phases:

  • Phase I -- Data collection.

  • Phase II -- Direction setting and strategy.

  • Phase III -- Strategy development.

  • Phase IV -- Internal analysis and implementation strategy.

"(The development of the plan) is intended to be carried out in a series of steps over time," said Tecker's planning proposal, "thus creating the opportunities both to carefully consider aggregated knowledge and to build consensus for necessary change. But it is also meant to be executed with optimum flexibility to meet the NCAA's changing needs, perspectives and priorities as the project unfolds."

Therein lies the NCAA's special challenge because the Association has an abundance of changing needs, perspectives and priorities.

"We understand the diversity of our membership, and we have very purposefully constructed a system that will encourage the widest possible range of thoughts," said NCAA vice-president Jim Isch, who is leading staff coordination of the project. "At the same time, a tiered approach has been identified (see accompanying list) that places the most direct input with the Association's leadership bodies and the ultimate decision making-authority with the Executive Committee."

First step

The first step involving the membership took place March 23 when a group of 10 Division II representatives -- six institutional CEOs and four athletics administrators -- discussed NCAA core ideology, the Association's envisioned future, assumptions about the relevant future and "mega issues" that face the NCAA. Similar groups from Divisions I and III met March 28 and April 5 (see rosters at left).

To underline his commitment to the task, Brand flew to Atlanta and back to Indianapolis on a Sunday to meet with the Division II group. The session appeared to be an excellent first step.

"I was very pleased with the consultants' approach to the questions and their openness to what we had to say and their ability to capture that in their summaries," said John P. Keating, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. "I was also pleased that Myles was there through the whole session to hear what we thought. So, in general, I was very gratified by the attention to the process that's being used to develop the overall strategic plan."

The principal dominant issue for the Division II group was student-athlete welfare, a theme that seems likely to be repeated among the various strategic-thinking groups that will be meeting throughout the spring. Student-athlete welfare was a predictable issue since it is among the NCAA's most agreed-upon raisons de'etre (the four current Executive Committee priorities all are based on student-athlete welfare).

But the group did not stop with mere generalities and explored many other important areas as it discussed the Association's ideology, its future and its key issues.

As the group talked about assumptions and issues, phrases such as "culture of cynicism" and "alienated from the Association" were bandied about. The discussion made it clear that the strategic-planning exercise will be more than an affirmation of love and respect for the NCAA. Indeed, it likely will become a tough-love exercise for the Association.

Is that healthy?

"It's more than healthy," Tecker said. "It's essential. Strategy has to be premised upon the truth. And what we're seeking to do is uncover the truth. That's both what the fact is and what people perceive to be fact. While people's perceptions may not be the truth, the fact that they hold that view cannot be denied."

Of course, determining "truth" is never an easy task. That is why the plan places so much emphasis on acquiring input from so many constituencies. No fewer than 15 in-depth meetings are scheduled as part of Step 2 (data collection) alone. For an idea of how much volume that involves, Tecker's draft report on the March 23 Division II session was 14 single-spaced pages, much of it one-line distillations of very large thoughts.

So, as challenging as it is to harvest all the data about what the NCAA is and what it should become, the larger task may rest in making sense out of it all. Jean Frankel, a principal partner with Tecker Consultants, said that the task is large, but achievable.

"There are two key places in the later parts of the process where we're going to bring (the possibilities) together and build some consensus," she said. "This process is very iterative. Consensus will be reached in a participative way because lots of folks have been involved, and it will be communicated in a participative and transparent way. We will share the results and also the framework on how we got there."

To that end, a communications plan is being developed that will rely on various media, including The NCAA News, NCAA Online, traditional correspondence (memoranda and the like) and face-to-face interaction. One especially important session will occur in September when about 100 key stakeholders will be brought to Indianapolis to react to a draft of the plan and the consensus that has been developed to that point. The plan also will be a focal point of the 2004 Convention in Nashville.

"I think by doing it the way they're doing it -- segmenting the membership first and hearing the individual concerns and then bringing them together -- the consultants may be able to suggest consensus on a vast variety of issues," Keating said.

"It is true that the diversity of the overall Association is daunting when you think of trying to pull a consensus into a single strategic plan. It's a real challenge. At the same time, if it's going to succeed, the process being suggested is an appropriate one."

Division strategic-planning groups

Division I

    Darlene Bailey Senior Woman Administrator, Southwest Missouri State University

    Percy Bates Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Michigan

    Donald Beggs President, Wichita State University

    Ron Eaglin President, Morehead State University

    Rich Ensor Commissioner, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

    Carolyn Schlie

    Femovich Comissioner, Patriot League

    Bob Lawless President, University of Tulsa

    Cheryl Levick Director of Athletics, Santa Clara University

    Peter Likins President, University of Arizona

    Lee McElroy Director of Athletics, State University of New York at Albany

    Chris Monasch Commissioner, America East Conference

    Mark Nordenberg Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh

    Thomas O'Connor Director of Athletics, George Mason University

    Jeff Orleans Commissioner, Ivy Group

    John Parry Director of Athletics, Butler University

    Chris Plonsky Director of Women's Athletics, University of Texas at Austin

    Linwood Rose President, James Madison University

    Mike Slive Commissioner, Southeastern Conference

    Eugene Smith Director of Athletics, Arizona State University

    Betsy Stephenson Senior Woman Administrator, University of California, Los Angeles

    Stan Wilcox Associate Commissioner, Big East Conference

    Nancy Zimpher President, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Division II

    Nancy Belck Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Omaha

    Frank Brown President, Columbus State University

    Tom Brown Commissioner, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

    Tony Capon Faculty Athletics Representative, University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

    George Haggerty President, Franklin Pierce College

    John Keating Chancellor, University of Wisconsin, Parkside

    Joan McDermott Director of Athletics, Metropolitan State College of Denver

    Clinton Pettus President, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

    Kay Schallenkamp President, Emporia State University

    Sue Willey Senior Woman Administrator, University of Indianapolis

Division III

    James R. Appleton President, University of Redlands

    Stephen P. Argo Commissioner, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

    Susan Bassett Director of Women's Athletics, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    Richard Berman President, Manhattanville College

    Christopher Bledsoe Director of Athletics, New York University

    Jennifer Braaten President, Ferrum College

    H. David Brandt President, George Fox University

    Stanley Caine President, Adrian College

    Suzanne R. Coffey Director of Athletics, Bates College

    Joshua Espinosa Student-Athlete, Buena Vista University

    Dale T. Knobel President, Denison University

    Mary E. Lyons President, College of St. Benedict

    Michael Miranda Faculty Athletics Representative, Plattsburgh State University of New York

    Oscar C. Page President, Austin College

    Charles Shearer President, Transylvania University

    Richard Torgerson President, Luther College

    Richard Wells Chancellor, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

    John (Chad) Yowell Executive Director of Athletics, Wheaton College (Massachusetts)

    Connee Zotos Director of Athletics, Drew University

Participant tiers

The four tiers of involvement for developing the NCAA strategic plan:

Group A

These participants will have primary input into the strategic-planning process.

  • Executive Committee

  • Division I Board of Directors, Divisions II and III Presidents Councils

  • President's Cabinet (senior staff leadership)

Group B

These participants will be asked to provide in-person input and timely reaction to the plan as it develops:

  • Athletics administrators

  • Coaches organizations leadership

  • Conference commissioners

  • Divisional strategic planning groups

  • Faculty representatives leadership

  • Group of Six

  • Leadership Advisory Board

  • Management Councils

  • Student-athletes (national SAACs)

Group C

These participants include larger populations that will be asked for reaction through Internet surveys:

  • Athletics administrators

  • Faculty athletics representatives

  • Higher education associations

  • Institutional CEOs

  • Knight Commission

  • Media

  • NCAA staff

  • Student-athletes (campus SAACs)

Group D

These participants include groups that will be apprised of strategic-plan developments as they occur:

  • Affiliated organizations

  • NAIA

  • NFHS