The Group of Five Commissioners ( from the 5 power schools) have petitioned the NCAA to cut the number of sports sponsored to be considered for Division one status. ( currently a school must sponsor 16 sports to be considered in Division one). Jennifer Heppel, commissioner of the Patriot League was one of 32 mid major league administrators who responded with a strongly worded open letter to the NCAA opposing the power play by the large football playing schools.
The letter dated April 21 reads as follows:
” On behalf of the Intercollegiate Coach Association Coalition (ICAC), we herby register our opposition to the request by the Group of Five Commissioners to allow conferences and schools to cut the number of sports sonsored to be considered for Division on status.
The economic impact the Covid 19 endemic places a lasting burden of both higher education and intercollegiate athletics alike, but slashing opportunities for students is not the solution.
Last year, NCAA Division one institutions provided educational opportunities for 141,483 students in Olympic sports. These are not just exceptional athletes, but outstanding students with graduation rates and donation rates higher than their non-athletic peers. These student athletes generated 3.6 billion in tuition and fees to their university, an amount nearly equal what it costs to provide these opportunities .
Sport fosters community and a life long love for our colleges and universities, impacting alumni involvement, endowment and giving. We need these contributions now more than ever.
Our first and most important commitment must be to our students, and duty requires us to explore every possible avenue for maintaining or investment in them. Reducing the minimum sports sponsorship requirement that would open the door to eliminating sports should not be an option. We are all in this together , and we are ready, eager and willing to partner with the NCAA to fine creativity solutions for the challenges to come. America’s students have had so much taken from them. Now is not the time to cut them. off from yet another critical institution that makes university life so special.
We respectfully request anything related to the discussion of the number of sports sponsored to follow the protocol of legislative procedure that allows for discussion and collaboration.
We stand as a committed partner to consider how to balance the reality of athletic department budgets with the enrollment needs of institutions. We know that we can develop the structural changes needed to preserve these opportunities, support our collective educational mission , and build a stronger NCAA as we emerge from the Coviv 19 pandemic.”