May 22, 2004
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Santa Clara University Director of Athletics and Recreation Cheryl Levick has been selected by the NCAA and the United States Olympic Committee have on a joint task force to review the decline of Olympic sports sponsorship at the collegiate level. Task force members will explore ways to positively effect change by offering recommendations and solutions to curb the Olympic sports sponsorship regression.
In recent years, the elimination of sports programs by NCAA member institutions has disproportionately affected Olympic sports, prompting serious challenges for some national governing bodies dependent upon collegiate programs as a key source for future and current Olympic-caliber athletes. In addition, the sports decline has resulted in lost participation opportunities for NCAA student-athletes. Informal discussions on the future problems facing both organizations led to the creation of the task force, which is scheduled to operate for 18 months.
"This task force is an important step in stemming the decline of Olympic sports programs on NCAA campuses," said NCAA President Myles Brand. "Obviously, colleges and universities are faced with significant economic issues with regard to athletics programs, but the benefits these student-athletes bring to campuses and the benefits many ultimately share with the nation on the Olympic stage should not be minimized when institutions make budgetary decisions."
Jim Scherr, the USOC's chief executive, said America's colleges and universities play a vital role in the development of athletes and coaches who ultimately move on to represent the United States in international competition.
"The USOC and our national governing bodies are proud to partner with the NCAA in developing solutions that will help preserve opportunities for Olympic sports at the collegiate level," he said.
The task force includes 16 individuals with experience in collegiate and Olympic sports. Each organization has selected the members to serve on its behalf. Though the date of the first meeting has not yet been finalized, the group is expected to meet no less than four times in person over the 18-month period.
The group is chaired by Jack Swarbrick, a partner in the Indianapolis law firm Baker and Daniels. Swarbrick is the former chair and a current board member of the Indiana Sports Corporation. Through the years, Swarbrick also has served as general counsel for several national governing bodies.
"The importance of this topic to both the NCAA and the USOC is reflected in the quality of the appointments each organization has made to this committee," Swarbrick said. "This is a committee of extraordinary talents and diverse perspectives, and I am honored to have been asked to facilitate its work. I am certain that the committee will be able to produce creative and substantive recommendations that will reverse the trend in the decline of Olympic sports sponsorship by this country's colleges and universities."
NCAA colleges and universities historically have been the lifeblood in several sports that compete as part of the Olympic program. Of the members of the U.S. Olympic teams from 1980 through 2000, about 94 percent were in attendance at or had attended NCAA institutions. In terms of facilities and other services, NCAA Division I institutions expend an average of $3 million per year on facilities and non-coaching services for men's and women's teams on the Olympic sports calendar.
The NCAA Olympic Sports Liaison Committee also will serve as a resource to the joint task force, serving as the catalyst to present any recommendations to the NCAA membership.
Task force members