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Track runs and jumps, tennis romps, and the NCAA ratifies a new constitution

Washington State Cougars Baseball Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning, Coug fans. I hope you have plans today, because with the men’s and women’s basketball cancellations, there’s not a ton of Cougar sports this weekend. The track squad is in Moscow, Idaho today for an indoor meet, but other than that, it’s awfully quiet.

The tennis team dusted the BYU Cougars yesterday indoors, 6-1. Congrats to first-year head coach Raquel Atawo on her first win. Here’s to many more!

I suppose we could check in on some NFL Cougs to see what they’re up to today. The only one playing is River Cracraft with the San Francisco 49ers. Keep your eyes on no. 13 during punt coverage and punt returns. In fact, Cracraft is the only former Coug left in the NFL playoffs.

We should also highlight WSU’s recognition of the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Former WSU track athlete Karen Blair played a major role in demanding gender equity as the plaintiff in the Blair vs. Washington State University lawsuit.

We could hold our noses and check in with the NCAA and how it overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new constitution. What that means remains to be seen, but expect D-1 to have more subdivisions and therefore more autonomy in decision making. That sounds good on the surface, but as always, the devil is in the details, and the details are in everybody’s imaginations so far.

Sports Illustrated had a long feature previewing the ratification vote, and it’s very interesting, so if you have the time, read it. At the risk of taking a section way out of context, I’m going to do just that because this part caught my eyes:

Another issue is what’s not in the rewritten constitution: There is no guarantee of automatic qualifiers for NCAA championships and no revenue-sharing model, two of the most significant items for the lower subsections of Division I.

“It’s not as if those things are going away, but they are on the table to be discussed,” Horizon League commissioner Julie Roe Lach says. “Those are pretty darn important to everyone in the division.”

Each Division I conference champion, or tournament champion, earns an automatic bid into NCAA-sanctioned championship events, most notably the D-I men’s basketball tournament, the NCAA’s only true moneymaker (roughly $900 million in annual revenue). Conferences earn distribution units largely based around their qualifying teams (1) advancing in the tournament, (2) sponsoring the most sports and (3) offering the maximum number of scholarships. Leagues then distribute the units to their members.

If the revenue distribution from automatic qualifying bids and distribution units stops or slows, the benefits that schools provide athletes are at stake, says Downer, the athletic director at FCS Saint Francis (PA), a school with an athletic budget of about $16 million. St. Francis earns about $600,000 in NCAA distribution each year, or roughly 4% of its budget. This past year, the school received a bonus of sorts: $52,000 in grant money from the CFP. It helped with book scholarships for football players. “There is a misconception that this money is going to salaries and facilities,” Downer says. “The reality is, on this level, it’s designed to benefit the student-athlete.”

Eliminating automatic qualifier (AQ) bids, as well as changing the revenue distribution model, is a recipe for a political backlash. Automatic qualifiers are a way to keep Olympic sports growing, says DeBoer. The impact of their elimination would be “dramatic,” she says, and would result in the discontinuation of some programs. And imagine the reaction from local or national lawmakers whose state universities are no longer playing for a chance at the Big Dance, says one administrator. Another asks, what about the historically Black conferences?

The old NCAA was bad. I’m not sure the future NCAA will be much better, which begs the question: What, really, is the role of the NCAA?

Somewhat related is this Jim Moore column on the Name, Image and Likeness crave sweeping the nation.

That should give us all some things to chew on. Happy Saturday, Coug fans.


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