Presented 5/1/02
Approved 5/1/02
Athletic Board
Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Holmes Student Center Room #406, 1:00 p.m.

Present:  Gip Seaver (Chair); Nestor Osorio, Paul Bauer, Debbie Brue, Richard Dowen, Ray Dembinski, Cary Groth, Earl Hansen, Keith Lambrecht, Robert Wheeler, George Shur, Marcia Dick, Ray Tourville, Nolan Davis, Joe True, Tara Hawkins, Kevin Miller.

Guests:  Dee Abrahamson, Associate Athletics Director; Stacy Allie, Assistant Athletics Director; Sheila Berg, Athletics Business Manager; Bobbie Cesarek, Compliance Officer; Robert Collins, Associate Athletics Director.

I.    Call to Order Ė Dr. Gip Seaver

Gip began the meeting by thanking the members for working this meeting in to their schedules.  There is one item (Sports Sponsorship) under New Business which will be added to the agenda but need approval to do so.

George Shur made a motion to add Sports Sponsorship under New Business.  Earl Hansen seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

II.    Old Business

A.    Football í02 Comp Ticket Policy

Cary Groth began discussion of the comp ticket policy by saying that the policy has not changed significantly from last yearís except that some areas have been tightened.  One small change is that beginning the new academic year, the Athletics Department staff will be required to pick up their tickets at the Ticket Office and they may not be given away to anyone.  This year, the NCAA will require that the athletics staff members declare the receipt of those tickets and possibly pay tax on them.  The tickets are for staff membersí personal use only.  It is important that the Athletics Department sell more tickets this year because we cannot afford to have staff members give away tickets.  Cary stressed that this policy has not been abused but revenue generation is the issue.

Earl Hansen made a motion to approve the Football 2002 comp ticket policy as presented.  Debbie Brue seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

B.    Practice Schedule

Dee Abrahamson distributed a copy of the facility usage chart she has developed.  It is important to look at the different needs for facilities by our sports teams.  There are some NCAA rules relating to instructional time.  For example, if a coach is only allowed to have four players at a time for instruction and your roster contains 40 players, that is 10 hours to cover practice time.  Times listed as ďback upĒ refers to an alternative site due to inclement weather.  Actual practice time is 20 hours per week.  We need to address covering practice time.   The purpose of this chart is to outline space issues and needs.

Gip stated that he did not hear the end of a report Dr. Wheeler had given previously on space usage and asked how that issue was resolved.  Dr. Wheeler said he hopes the issue can be resolved at some point, especially as it relates to womenís track.  Gip said this chart helps highlight those issues and asked if this is something the Gender Equity subcommittee should continue to monitor.  Debbie Brue expressed the feeling that this is just something that needs to be watched.  Another issue is when Evans Field House is being remodeled in the fall.  Next year is a big concern.

C.    Budget

Gip stated that the budget subcommittee has not yet met.

III.    New Business
A.    Sports Sponsorship

Cary Groth began by saying in light of previous budget discussions, many of the Board members are aware of the situation in Athletics.  Sheila Berg has done a very good job in locating resources to address the potential deficit but we cannot continue.  An assessment of the entire athletics program has been done, including every sport program, its viability for success not only in the MAC but regionally.  Athletics offers 19 sports programs, many of which operate on minimal budgets requiring them to fund raise for travel, fund raise to allow them to sleep three athletes to a room when they travel, etc.  This is unfair to the program.

Cary is recommending to the Athletic Board that menís and womenís swimming and diving be eliminated immediately.  This proposal does result in the elimination of 37 participation opportunities for student-athletes.  Only one female student-athlete has been signed to a National Letter of Intent for next year.  National signing day is coming up on April 10 so if the Board approves this proposal, our student-athletes would be able to transfer to another institution and become immediately eligible to participate, or they could choose to remain at Northern Illinois University.  Approximately $400,000 would be realized from this decision.

Before moving into Board discussion, Gip asked for a motion on this issue.  Earl Hansen made a motion to accept the proposal that menís and womenís swimming and diving be eliminated, effective immediately.  Dick Dowen seconded the motion.

Earl Hansen asked of the 37 opportunities that would be eliminated, how many of those student-athletes receive financial aid?  Cary said many of them are receiving some sort of aid but it is an equivalency sport so grants may be split up into parts.  She went on to recommend continuing scholarships for those athletes who choose to stay for an additional year.  This would give them an opportunity to find an institution or to graduate if they are eligible to do so.  The student-athletes who would be most affected are the juniors who have one more year of eligibility and cannot transfer as easily.

Cary went on to state that though this is a very difficult decision, it is something we must do. Keith Lambrecht asked what other options were considered.  Cary said many options were considered such as reducing scholarships across the board to 50% or 75%.  Conference-required sports are football, menís basketball, womenís basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball.  We looked at programs with the most opportunities for success.  Our swimming team has an extremely poor facility.  We have had some very close calls in the diving well and it is not fair to the swimmers to continue.  As a point of reference, menís swimming finished fourth in the MAC this year and womenís swimming finished last.  This program is not in a position where they have priority within the programs, which can have the most success, which can develop the most external resources through private donations, gate, etc.  Swimming falls short across the board.

George Shur asked if comments have come from other coaches in the MAC about our facility.  Stacy Allie, assistant athletics director with oversight for the swimming program, stated there are MAC coaches who refuse to compete here because of our facility.  We currently do not meet NCAA regulations as they pertain to our facility.  Cary related that five or six years ago Campus Recreation was considering adding a new swimming pool on campus but it was not seen as a priority for the institution or athletics program.  George said he assumes use of the two existing pools would continue to be for recreational or instructional use.  They do provide additional recreational opportunities for the students as a whole.  It should also be mentioned that it is the students who control the facilities that Campus Recreation builds.  The students appear not to support an increase in fees to build a new pool.  Cary added that Kinesiology and Physical Education has been wonderful about scheduling the Anderson Hall pool but it is getting more and more use by recreation and classes.  The issue really is that we do not have a good competitive facility for student-athletes.  She is not sure we are fair in continuing the program but not providing opportunities for it to be successful.

Dick Dowen offered his support in bringing this issue forward and went on to ask Cary how she would see the $400,000 being used, how much of that amount is general revenue and how much is from another source?  Cary said there are no general revenue dollars in this budget.  They are student fees or external dollars.  Her recommendation to the President and Dr. Kaplan is to address critical budget issues in other sports.  She would like to use some of the money to assist the track program, some of the smaller programs, and to address some of the deficit.

Cary stated that Division 1A standards require that we offer six menís sports and eight womenís sports.  With the Boardís approval to eliminate menís and womenís swimming and diving, it takes us to seven menís sports and nine womenís sports.  If this proposal is approved today, Cary will meet with the swimming coaching staff immediately following this meeting and then the swimmers and divers after that.  She will meet with the SASS staff and PAWS group this evening.  Gip reminded the budget subcommittee that it would be involved in working with the athletics administration on this issue.

Earl asked what would happen to the swimming coachesí salary money.  Cary said she is unsure at this time and is more concerned about operational monies.  Ray Tourville asked if personnel monies are involved in this matter.  Cary clarified that this would involve personnel, scholarship, and operational money.  She did offer her apologies to the Board for not having met with the budget or gender equity subcommittees before today but the student-athletes do not know about this.  Gip said it was his decision not to involve the subcommittees.  This body is advisory to the president and it will be his choice as to how to handle this proposal.

Cary said the athletes will be told that the Athletic Board has approved the elimination of menís and womenís swimming and diving.  The president is very much aware of the budget situation in Athletics.  We just cannot continue going to the students for everything and we have exhausted all our options.  Cary has looked at every option to see if we donít have to move forward with this proposal but there is nothing else to do.  We must continue to evaluate how we spend our money.

Earl said earlier Cary had said the juniors will have a problem.  What will be done for them?  Cary assured the Board that we will continue to assist them however possible but will offer one more year of aid after this year.  She believes that is fair.

Dr. Wheeler asked when the last time was that sports were eliminated.  Cary said field hockey was eliminated in 1991.  Marcia Dick asked how many coaches would be affected.  Cary replied that there is one head coach, one assistant coach, one diving coach, and one graduate assistant.

Ray Dembinski then said having been through this situation before, there is always the sense of being uncomfortable in making this kind of decision.  A lot of discussion will occur tomorrow or the next few days on campus but just stay the course.  Eventually things will settle down.  Earl mentioned that Board members are liable to be contacted by the news media.  Gip suggested that if that happens, refer them to either him or Cary.  He also requested that should this proposal move forward, Cary and her staff need time to meet with the coaches and team.  Please keep this quiet so we can control the manner in which the affected individuals learn about it.

Debbie Brue said it might help, if questioned by colleagues, to know how much a new pool would cost.  ary replied that in meetings with convocation center architects two years ago, they were talking about a minimum of $4 Ė 5 million to add a pool.

Joe True expressed his concern for the current student-athletes and their financial situation.  What if the Athletic Department is unable to support them?  Cary said student-athlete situations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Tara Hawkins asked if the Athletics Department will assist the student-athletes in locating other programs.  Cary said Bobbie Cesarek, our compliance officer, has prepared a letter to go to all national conference indicating that our student-athletes will receive an immediate release.  She went on to say that one of the things to be discussed during her meeting with the SASS staff is the fact that our swimmers are a priority and their academic needs must be met.

Dee Abrahamson added that when other institutions dropped sport programs which we offered here, within an hour of receiving that information, we searched their websites and reviewed their athletesí biographies.  We were quickly aware of the athletes who were available.

George said all we can do is the best we can but there can be no guarantees.  We can work in good faith and look for other competition for these young people.  We cannot guarantee it however, nor can we guarantee the level of aid they may receive or that aid will continue beyond one year here.

Cary urged Joe and Tara to be supportive of the affected student-athletes.  No matter how much sense this decision makes to others, the athletes will not understand it.  Earl then asked how long the coaches will remain on salary?  Cary stated they will be on salary through June 30, 2002.

Kevin Miller asked if this is the last option and that all other avenues have been explored.  Cary feels this is a good decision and, in her opinion, if we donít do this, many programs will suffer more.  The decision makes sense based on our facilities, budget, and competitive opportunities.  Gip went on to say that the timing for this decision is not good anyway you look at it.  Once the competitive season ends, you come up on the National Letter of Intent signing day.

Earl Hansen then called the question.  The vote was unanimous and the motion was carried.  However, to be clear, Gip asked for a roll call vote. 12 Ė yes

Motion was carried.

Earl then asked if the minutes should reflect the fact that aid would be continued for another year for those student-athletes choosing to remain at Northern Illinois University.  It was concurred that this would be appropriate.

Earl Hansen made a motion to support the Athletics Departmentís offer to continue the swimming and diving programís grants-in-aid at the present level for one more year.  Keith Lambrecht seconded the motion.

George asked how this would apply to those swimmers and divers who are either redshirted or who have exhausted their eligibility and would leave it up to the Athletics Department to decide whether this will be applicable to the swimmers next year.  Cary said she will meet with the PAWS officers about this.

Dr. Wheeler asked what would happen to swimmers or divers who might go on academic probation.  Bobbie Cesarek responded that it would be the coachesí decision.  Dr. Wheeler went on to ask who would be responsible for making such decisions in the absence of a coach?  Cary said the academic coordinator from SASS, Megan Chiavini, will be responsible for keeping track of the athletes.  Paul Bauer then asked if there are NCAA rules regarding continuing aid when a program has been dropped.  Cary said what Athletics is suggesting with continuing aid is pretty typical.

Having no further discussion, the motion was carried.

IV.    Adjournment

Earl Hansen made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Ray Dembinski seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.

The next meeting of the Athletic Board is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. in Holmes Student Center Room #406.  The executive committee will meet on Wednesday, April 24, 2002, in Evans Field House Conference Room at 1:00 p.m.