Duke AD White cautions against power conference split
Posted June 4
Durham, N.C. — As the university athletic system continues change based on student economic needs, the top conferences are worried about student-athlete financial assistance.
Duke University athletic director Kevin White, the 2013 Athletic Director of the Year, has ideas that are different from many of the other athletic directors in the Power 5 conferences -- the ACC, SEC, BIG 10, BIG 12, and the PAC 12.
One of the newest ideas would be for the Power 5 to break away from Division I and form their own division, known as Division IV. This would enable the commissioners to decide on economic opportunities for athletes.
However, there are many different ideas for what Division IV could be and none of them are fully formed as of now.
“There are so many concepts and ideas being shopped that aren’t fully vetted,” White said Wednesday while joining Adan and Joe on 99.9 The Fan ESPN Radio. “People have so many different ideas for what could be Division IV. I believe maintaining the association which we call the NCAA is an important element as it relates to moving forward with college athletics. I think it’s a really important enterprise moving forward.”
Many people argue there are such big differences between the Power 5 and the lower levels of the NCAA that they no longer offer the same things to each other.
White believes this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I think it’s really important for lower levels, like Division III to hang around with the Power 5 and I think there’s really good residual impact for the Power 5 to hang around with Division III schools and everyone in between,” White said. “I think for a cluster of schools to break rank and forge their own path is not in the best interest of the aggregate enterprise of the NCAA.”
White acknowledged things change over time and need to adapt in order to prosper. Instead of breaking into a separate division all together, White would like to see the NCAA stay with the same format.
“We’re in a bit of a market correction. We will figure this out,” he said. “Things change and they do morph over time. I think there is some value for keeping the big tent together.”
With ‘haves and have-nots’ in the NCAA, White worries about a point being reached where all schools can no longer coexist in the same association.
“We’re at a point now where we don’t want to blow up the whole enterprise for the needs of a select few,” said White.
White is fearful one day universities will want to turn their athletic departments into sole entertainment industries, rather than intermingling the necessary academic requirements.
“The day we move away from that, we have a developmental league, and there isn’t a developmental league in the country that can stand on its own,” White said. “We cannot be entirely an entertainment property, but we have to be integral and take advantage of the academic advantages that do exist.”
A big reason Division IV is even being discussed is a student-based need for athletes. While scholarships pay for tuition, it leaves no other money for other things. That is, unless they come from families that could afford to send their children to college in the first place.
White feels giving all student-athletes full cost of attendance is not financially viable, but realizes there are students that need that option.
“I’m someone who believes in full cost attendance based on need,” said White. “I want all of our athletes to have a really good experience at Duke. I don’t know that I’m worried about driving resources to the ones that don’t need the financial assistance, but the ones that do not have the financial wherewithal to do that. To me, full cost of attendance for everyone seems like overkill.”
As the NCAA attempts to re-do the way things have been handled, White is confident something new will be worked out without drastic changes occurring.
“It’s worked for 100 years and I’m pretty confident we’ll find a way to make it work for another 100 years or so.”