Dr. Richard Lapchick, whose background varies from being a political science professor, to a senior liaison officer at the United Nations, to the endowed chair of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at UCF, says there isn't a day when he doesn't shake his head when he studies the state of college athletics and the massive changes that are ahead.
"I definitely have to scratch my head a lot," he said with a slight chuckle.
Lapchick is also the president of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports and established The Institute for Diversity Ethics in Sport, which annually does reports on minority hiring practices, and he is a regular columnist for ESPN.com and The Sports Business Journal. He's appeared at the United Nations, in the European Parliament and been on Good Morning America, Face The Nation, The Today Show, ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, the CBS Evening News, CNN and ESPN.
So yes, when this guy speaks people usually listen. Or at least they should. We talked recently about all the changes that are swirling in college athletics and what the impact could be as this is a summer of change nationally.
• The Big Ten's move to potentially make first-year college students sit out to adjust to college life could be tough to get passed, but Lapchick has always been a big fan of returning to the days when true freshmen couldn't compete in NCAA events. Extra scholarships would be added to sports that enforced the rule to help make up for the ineligible freshmen.
"I am and always have been a big proponent of freshmen ineligibility, particularly in the revenue sports," Lapchick said. "The Big Ten is a pretty powerful influencer and they're all tired of the one-and-done thing. It came out of the blue to me that (commissioner Jim Delaney) was proposing it. I was personally happy that he did. I think it would be a great benefit."
College leaders are frustrated by the move of several schools to take an athlete for part of a year to win games then letting them leave with very little education. Many school presidents desire a move to make it necessary, somehow, for athletes who enroll in college to be required to stay a second year if they want to compete on the college level.
• Cost of attendance is a result of the "Power Five" conferences demanding the opportunity to compensate athletes for more of the actual cost of attendance by paying more of a total cost to go to school. In those conferences the extra money could easily approach $3,500 to $5,000 per athlete.
Smaller schools argue that the chance to give athletes extra money is unfair.
"I think cost of attendance, assuming it's done fairly, which I'm not sure it will be, but assuming it is would be a positive development,'' Lapchick said.
• A large adjustment in the college coaching climate in football could also be coming, depending largely on a few elite coaches who are now in charge of some of the super power programs.
A lot of eyes, in particular, are on Charlie Strong at Texas and James Franklin at Penn State. If a black coach wins a national title?
"It would be huge," says Lapchick, "because that's what John Thompson did (in basketball) when he won the Final Four back in '84. It gave him a voice and a platform to talk about the importance of hiring practices and we've never had such a figure in college football.
• Guns on campus is a push in Florida and elsewhere. For athletes, could this be another step in the wrong direction toward bad situations so many seem to find themselves in, already.
"I'm not a big supporter of guns," Lapchick said. "I don't like anybody carrying guns. There are a bunch of states about to pass legislation and some that already have allowing students to carry weapons on a college campus. I don't think anything good can come about, like some people say nothing good is going to happen if you are out after one o'clock in the morning anywhere. Nothing good is going to happen if you are carrying a gun."
Realistically, however, that theory is about to be tested in several places. Athletes already seem to find ways to create problems for themselves. This could be the next big issue in college sports, which is already becoming a problem in several places.
"I think the schools that do (life skills training) are going to be ahead of the game,'' Lapchick said.
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