Hi, my name is JT Brown and I am a senior at Nichols College studying Sport Management. I am interning for the Commonwealth Coast Conference for the spring semester. I was lucky enough to go to the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis from January 16-20 on a trip that was sponsored by my school. They allowed two of our great Sport Management professors as well as six students to attend.
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018:
The week started off with a tour of the NCAA Headquarters on Wednesday. There we saw our school logo as well as the CCC logo on the wall of institutions. Then we went to the Hall of Champions. The first floor is where they featured historical teams and that year’s champion from every sport. For those of you that don’t know, here is a fun fact: The NCAA doesn’t recognize the winner of the College Football Playoff as the NCAA champion. I didn’t know this and I guess it is true you learn something new every day.
The second floor of the Hall of Champions was more of an interactive place. Here you could play a quick game of basketball, throw in football or baseball simulators, and test your knowledge of collegiate sports.
The rooms were awesome in the way they honored significant people in the sports landscape. Pat Summit had a room with her official game ball from her 1000th win. She was the first DI collegiate coach to win 1000 games. There was also a model of John Wooden’s pyramid of success, which is still relevant in leadership to this day.
To finish the day off we went to the Honors Celebration. These student-athletes were unbelievable. Not only were they achieving all-sport honors and winning championships, but what they were doing on the academic side was just as phenomenal. These students received 4.0 GPAs in majors I’ve never even heard of. They also announced Capt. Barry “Butch” Wilmore as the winner of the Theodore Roosevelt Award. This award is the highest honor that he NCAA gives out. It is presented annually to a distinguished citizen of national reputation and outstanding accomplishment. The recipient also had to play a varsity sport at one point. Afterwards there was a photo op with all honorees in the hallway which was a great experience.
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018:
The next day was for educational seminars. There were sessions on a number of different topics that were spread out throughout the day. I attended an “Ethics and Leadership Seminar” in the morning, which had the biggest Kahoot game I’ve ever played. Five hundred people is a little more than the 25 we have in class here at school. At this session they preached communication from the top down. If everyone is on the same page with the school as far as their mission and their type of decision-making then the department should run smoothly.
After lunch I went to a “Game Day the DIII Way” seminar that was set up through the Disney Institute. The moderator, talked about major points that if everyone followed would make the DIII landscape that much better. The four points were safety, responsiveness, dignity, and experience. As DIII organizations preach, it’s the experience that makes game day the “DIII” way possible. As an organization you can’t do that without knowing that the people are safe there. This was a different seminar than just listening to speakers. It was interactive, as I worked with other athletic directors in doing different activities.
Then we went to the “State of College Sports” where the President Mark Emmert spoke to all the delegates. He went on to say how the NCAA needs to be able to face its problems head on, referencing the recent investigations of men’s basketball by the FBI. He backed that up by saying people think all the NCAA does is investigate and how they need to come down on them hard by the end of the year.
In the middle of his presentation he gave out the NCAA President’s Pat Summit Award. The award recognizes an individual in the association’s membership who has demonstrated devotion to development of student-athlete and has made a positive impact on their lives. That went to MIT’s Julie Soreiro. A big congratulations to her.
We ended our day at a delegates’ dinner. Everyone ate in one of the hotels ballrooms and could go through and talk to each other. We met the Communications Consultant for the NCAA Gary Brown who also wrote for the Champions Magazine. We met many others as our professor Charlie Robert introduced us to people she knew.
Friday, Jan. 19, 2018
On Friday we started turning more towards the issues. We got up bright and early to go to breakfast at the DIII Issues Forum, where they went through the legislation that was on the table this year. The DIII board went over the proposals and the positives and negatives of each.
After the Issues Forum we went to a luncheon. At the luncheon the President gave out the Gerald Ford Award to Robin Roberts. The award honors an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics on a continuous basis over the course of their career. She was very happy to receive it and you could tell she was extremely proud to be a student-athlete and the path that she has gone on since then, shattering glass ceilings in the process. Our group even took a picture on the stage as a group that she liked on Twitter!
My next stop was the CCC Athletic Administrators meeting. Thank you to all the Athletic Directors, Vice Presidents, and Assistant AD’s in the room that let us sit in. It was interesting seeing the voting process and how the meetings work with the commissioner and the schools working together. It was also eye-opening seeing the different viewpoints on certain subjects. I liked hearing from delegates for why certain things would or wouldn’t work at their respective schools. A lot of the legislation wasn’t earth-shattering but it was worth sitting in on.
After this meeting we got to explore a little bit of downtown Indy. Even downtown you will run into people from the convention. We ran into the Associate AD of Arizona who is good friends with J.T. Snow, who I was named after. That was a really interesting situation, I guess it is a small world after all. If you haven’t been to Indianapolis it is a really nice city and a great place to hold a convention. The ballrooms seem like they are the size of Nichols’s campus and could fit a city in there. There are three or four hotels within minutes of the convention center and best part of all you don’t need to go outside to any of it thanks to the skywalk.
Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018:
The next morning is where all the action happened during the DIII business session. This was the voting process for DIII on whether to adopt certain rules into the handbook for next season. The one vote that surprised me was whether football should be allowed to come in earlier to practice. The rule would have set a standard start date 25 days before the first allowed contest date. We knew it was going to be close, but it didn’t pass. A football coach from one of the colleges stood up to voice his opposition of the legislation and I think that swayed many voters to the "no" side. There was also a part of the process that I think even the mediator didn’t understand with regards to the national SAAC proposal. There was confusion about what adopting the amendment to the proposal meant and how the proposal would be voted on. All-in-all this was a great experience to see how certain subjects fared in the voting process.
After the voting session we began the journey back to Nichols. We left the city to fly to Atlanta where we had plenty of time to check out the airport due to the three hour layover. We got through this long time talking with Professor Robert, the CCC assistant commissioner Doug Chin, and to lighten the mood jokes from the New England Collegiate Conference Commissioner Del Malloy.
My takeaway from the trip is the whole experience. DIII prides itself on the experience and the convention provided that. I loved meeting new faces as well as reuniting with people I have met before. Hearing the stories of the student-athletes was amazing and learning of the experiences of such successful people in the sports industry was inspiring. If you are ever leaning towards the college athletics route I recommend going to the convention, not just for the connections you may need in the future, but to learn about relevant issues in the profession today.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the people that made this trip happen: Nichols College for allowing six students to venture to Indy for the convention; our professors, Charlie Robert and Alice Mullen, for joining us: the CCC (everyone involved), especially Gregg Kaye and Doug Chin, for allowing us to basically be part-time members of the conference for the weekend. To all the people we ran into over the weekend, thank you for sharing the stories and experiences to us aspiring Sport Management students. Last but not least a huge thank you to city of Indy for putting on a great convention for the lucky delegates that get the opportunity to go.
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and four associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.