Athletic Committee Final Report FY 2022

Senate Athletic Committee Final Report, 2021-2022

Committee Membership
Jordan Bass (Chair)
Susan Williams (Ex Officio FAR)
Paul Buskirk (Ex Officio representing Kansas Athletics)
Heather Abernathy
Lisa Bergeron
Jerry Crawford
Megan Greene
Scott Harris
Kelly Banks
Maggie Mnayer (Student Member)
Florence DiGennaro Reed
Brett Bricker
Daniel Hegarty (Student-Athlete Representative)

The committee’s specific charges for 2021-2022 included:

  1. To the extent possible the committee is encouraged to start each year with a joint meeting of the KAI Staff and the Athletic committee.

    1. KAI would outline the things that are on their agenda that the committee could work on to help KAI and student athletes. The Senate Athletic Committee could do the same.
    2. From this meeting, the agenda for the rest of the year could be built.
  2. Review KU and Kansas Athletics Inc. (KAI) efforts to promote and maintain academic excellence for the student athletes.
    1. Identify potential academic barriers and recommend mechanisms to overcome such barriers including collaboration with the student athlete academic support services.
    2. Review current-year data on missed class days due to competition and travel.
    3. Review the following KAI academic reports: Spring and Fall Student-Athlete Grade Summary, NCAA Academic Progress Rate Institutional Report, Graduation Rates and the KAI report on academic majors for student-athletes and non-athletes.
    4. Review the effects of university changes regarding core requirements, majors, minors, certificates or other curricular issues.
  3. Review KU and KAI efforts to provide a premier student athlete experience.
    1. Review programs designed to ensure the personal development and personal welfare of student athletes including: nutrition and physical health, mental health, and safety.
    2. Review reports from KAI exit-interviews and KAI survey questions regarding participation in the broader campus community.
    3. Review Student Athlete Advisory Committee programs and recommend opportunities to improve student athlete involvement in extracurricular campus and community activities.
  4. Help ensure KU maintains athletic compliance with University, Big XII and NCAA rules and Federal law.
    1. Review educational programs and communication strategies to ensure the KU community better understands the combined responsibility for compliance.
    2. Review and summarize KAI reports identifying athletic compliance parameters including but not limited to recruiting practices and university admissions.
    3. Review KU and KAI policies and procedures on drug testing, diversity and sexual harassment including Title IX compliance, and alcohol use in matters of sexual assault reporting.
  5. Help ensure KU meets its strategic goals pertaining to athletics.
    1. Recommend educational programs and communication strategies to enhance the balance between academics and athletics, as well as to promote a broad understanding of the goals and priorities of each.
    2. Recommend mechanisms for improved communication between KAI coaches and staff and KU faculty, staff and students.
    3. Maintain regular communications with the NCAA/Big XII Faculty Representative, the Athletics Advisory Committee (AAC), KAI and University Governance to ensure the needs of each are being served.

The committee scheduled the following dates to meet the charges for the 2021-2022 year
October 6th, 2021
November 17th, 2021
January 26th, 2022
February 25th, 2022
April 13th, 2022
April 28th, 2022 (Canceled)

October Meeting
In the first meeting of the committee, the specific charges for the academic year were discussed. Many of the committee members are in their second or third year on the committee – those members helped provide context and answer any questions about the report from the previous year. The first item discussed was the excused absence policy at KU. This debate/discussion has been ongoing for multiple years and is being lead by the Faculty Athletic Representative Susan Williams. She has lead the push to establish an excused absence policy at KU for university activities (athletic events, debate, etc.). The committee discussed why this policy hasn’t moved through the university process, what could be done by the committee to help it move forward, and the actual process by
which this could be implemented at the university. As of our last meeting, the policy has still not moved through the Senate process or be put up for public discussion.

The committee also stated they would be interested in learning more about Name, Image, Likeness and the impact it has on student-athletes. Additionally, the ways in which these new responsibilities may impact the 20 hour rule and the demands on student-athlete time was also discussed. Finally, the committee discussed which members of athletics they would like to talk to this year. The first and main name brought up was new Director of Athletics Travis Goff. Preliminary questions were discussed for Goff, and Paul Buskirk stated he would reach out to the Athletic Director office to schedule a meeting for the fall semester.

November Meeting
For the second meeting of the fall, the committee met with new Athletic Director Travis Goff. Additionally, Dr. Maya Ozery – a new administrative in Athletics in the student-athlete wellness area– joined the meeting. The committee was impressed with Goff’s openness and willingness to discuss topics with the group. The meeting opened with introductions and the committee was able to learn more about Goff’s background and what attracted him to KU. The first question asked about his view on faculty engagement with athletics and the ways he has seen this work at other schools where he has worked. Goff discussed strategies his group is developing to engage the campus community,
and the ways in which athletics and academics can and should work together. He specifically highlighted the hiring of a dual fundraiser/endowment officer that will help bridge that gap and show donors/the community how both groups work together. Goff continually discussed the need to be a good “partner” with the university.

Other topics Goff discussed included Name-Image-Likeness, the future of the NCAA, and the state of the Big XII and conference realignment. He stated KU did not desire to be on the “cutting edge” of NIL or push the envelope in this area. They want to do it the “right way” – Goff discussed a student-athlete being given a modest vehicle and not a luxury car like other universities. In regards to the NCAA, Goff was about to attend the constitutional convention and stated changes were on the way and he would update the group after the meeting. Lastly, in regards to the Big XII he stated KU needs to position their department to be a valuable conference member and the future of conferences and conference membership will likely change in the coming years due to media contracts.

January Meeting
The committee began 2022 by hearing the annual academic report from Paul Buskirk. Buskirk provided a very thorough and detailed breakdown of the metrics and points of data used by the academic side of KU athletics. Specifically, he discussed APR, major grouping, and student-athlete academic success. Buskirk fielded numerous questions on the academic performance of student athletes and highlighted the accomplishments in the classroom and the ways in which his staff help and support student-athletes in the classroom.

The main questions for Buskirk centered around the transfer portal and the impact that has on the metrics measured by the NCAA. He stated the movement of student-athletes from school to school can have a number of impacts on the APR and progress toward degree ratings- the committee was impressed by all the work that is needed by Buskirk’s team to manage the unique situation of each student-athlete and team. KAI could benefit from Paul presenting this information to the university community or public at large.

February Meeting
In February, the committee focused on the proposed excused absence policy with Dr. Susan Williams. Dr. Williams detailed the movement of the policy and expressed hope it may be taken up by the entire Senate. The main benefit of the policy is taking the burden off instructors to determine what is an official university event. Dr. Williams stated the vast majority of peer universities have this policy in place and the committee discussed ways we could support this policy when it reaches public discussion.

To finish the meeting, Paul Buskirk detailed the majors and degrees distribution of student-athletes. The committee didn’t notice any concerns with major clustering after previously being concerned with the General CLAS degree. Previously, student-athletes accounted for a majority of majors in that degree but that is no longer the case. This should continued to be monitored moving forward.

April Meeting
In our final meeting of the year, the committee met with Dr. Maya Ozery and Nicole Corcoran. Dr. Ozery is the new Senior Associate AD for Student-Athlete Development and Corcoran is the Deputy Athletics Director for Sports Administration and Student-Athlete Well-Being/Senior Woman Administrator. Both Dr. Ozery and Corcoran presented on their roles at KU and the ways in which they assist student-athletes in their off the field wellness. Dr. Ozery is new to KU and provided the committee with a number of strategies she has developed based on her previous experience as an international student-athlete and college athletics administrator at places like Georgetown.

They detailed an anonymous tip line they have implemented where student-athletes can report concerns without any of their information attached. They also discussed the challenges around mental health with student-athletes and the strategies in place to assist their athletes. Finally, both Corcoran and Dr. Ozery discussed the challenges in modern college athletics with social media and the movement in and out of schools. Lastly, the role of KU Leads was discussed and Dr. Ozery laid out potential future directions for that arm of KAI.

April Athletics Director Meeting
Unfortunately, the follow-up meeting with Travis Goff was canceled due to a last minute scheduling issue.

Recommended Charges for 2022-2023 Academic Year

  1. The continued impact of Name-Image-Likeness and the ways in which the university should be involved
  2. Mental health and well-being of student-athletes
  3. Monitoring the time commitments placed on student-athletes
  4. The future of college athletics – specifically the impact being left out of a “super” conference or league would have on the university prestige and enrollment
  5. Continued monitoring of the academic success of student-athletes – specifically as the transfer portal grows
  6. The impact of the 2022 Men’s Basketball National Championship on the university (enrollment, fundraising, etc.) and ways the university did use/or could use it to benefit the university community.