Board of Directors Conference Call 2/15/11

CRCA Board of Director’s Conference Call Minutes- February 15, 2011

Submitted by: Steve Kish

Start time: 1pm EST

On call:  Lori Dauphiny, Robyn Horner, Steve Kish, Jane LaRiviere, Liz O’Leary, Susan Parkman, Will Porter, Steve Pritzker, Martin Stone, Kate Strum, Bill Zack.  Tessa Spillane joined ten minutes late, preceding the Lightweight Committee report.



Committee Reports and other Agenda Items


Hall of Fame (Co-Chairs Liz O’Leary and Susan Parkman):   All info is updated on the website.  Committee nominated Dr. Christine Grant for the Hall of Fame.  Liz will email information with the background information for the nomination.  Discussion included where to present the award and additional ways to recognize Dr. Grant.  Jane recommended asking Dr. Grant to speak at the NCAA banquet.  Liz moved that Dr. Grant be inducted, Robyn seconded the motion, all were in favor, none opposed, none abstained.


Coaching Education (Chair Robyn Horner):  Robyn confirmed that the CRCA will host the event on Wednesday and Thursday, June 8-9 at the University of Tennessee boathouse.  These are the two days leading up to the USRowing Youth Nationals in Oak Ridge, TN.  These dates will be reflected on the website this week and Robyn will send out a “save the date” to the membership, emphasizing that it is great timing for coaches who are attending the Youth Nationals to recruit.  Coach Lisa Glenn at the University of Tennessee has offered use of their 50 person boathouse meeting room.  Martin and Jane verbally supported moving forward with it.  Bill recommended moving forward with speakers, finalizing dates and times, etc.


Website Improvements (Ad-Hoc Committee Chair Steve Kish):  Steve K. has been looking into possible improvements to the CRCA website to make it more useful to the overall membership.  He consulted with a group of coaches to generate ideas and the two prevailing ones were a high school coach’s database and more coaching education resources including video of presenters, speakers and willing interviewees.  He will be prompting the full membership to respond via email regarding these options as well as soliciting other ideas.  At the very end of the call, after Steve P. and Martin had signed off, Steve also mentioned the idea of having a link on our website that lists all of the former members of the BOD.  This change would happen alongside any other website changes in the future so there is no immediate need for a decision.  He will begin gathering the names of all former members of the BOD.  It would perhaps be located under the About Us or Board of Directors link.   He also suggested that we consider a token gift for all outgoing board members whenever they cycle off, something to thank them for their service.  Steve K. will put together a proposal regarding the gift. 


Lightweight Rowing (Chair Lori Dauphiny):  Lori reviewed the issue of the number of off campus recruiters allowed per institution.  Currently, NCAA rules allow a program to have two recruiters off campus at the same time during the academic year and three during the summer.  However, a program that has both an openweight staff and a lightweight staff is not allowed any additional recruiters off campus.  The current feeling is that a number of the programs that have lightweight coaches would like to see legislation that allowed for an additional coach, or two, to be off campus both during the academic year and during the summer.  The issue is that if an openweight staff has two coaches recruiting, the lightweight staff at that program is “hamstrung” and unable to be off campus at the same time.  Of course, it could work the other way around as well (lightweight staff off campus prevents the openweight staff from recruiting off campus).  Lori will contact Claire, the Co-Chair of the Lightweight committee, and they will gather the opinions of the lightweight coaches and then also put together a proposal for the full membership.  Provided the membership is in support, the CRCA will submit legislation the NCAA.  Will asked why any openweight program (that does not have a lightweight program) would possibly vote for such legislation as the rules could be circumvented.  In other words, the lightweight coaches might be out there recruiting openweights for the overall program instead of lightweights.  Liz asked who brought this topic up, as Radcliffe has both openweight and lightweight programs, with five coaches on staff, and has never had a conflict with needing more recruiters off campus at the same time.  Steve K. responded that the issue has been talked about for a few years and that he recently brought more attention to it via email with a number of the other programs that have lightweights. 


Attendance at US Rowing Convention:  Board members were asked if they were all certain of their attendance at next year’s US Rowing Convention.  Bill pointed out that the CRCA by-laws require one meeting per year with a quorum (at least 9 members) and that we have been a bit lenient with this by-law.  This meeting has historically been held at the USRowing Convention.  It was recommended that we either follow the by-law or change the by-law.  If we believe that a quorum will not be in attendance in Hartford this December, we will consider changing the by-law. 


Membership (Chair Steve Kish):  Steve K. asked the BOD to consider the possibility of restructuring the membership fee to $100 per institution, with no fee for assistant coaches, in essence providing a quantity discount to programs with many coaches.  He suggested that it would simplify the membership drive, hopefully bring EVERY coach into the fold, and keep the membership revenue intact or close enough.  If a full program did not choose to join, an individual coach could join as an associate member and still have voting rights.  Bill emphasized that we would need to stress that we are still an association of coaches and not an association of programs.  Jane asked for more detail, worried that smaller programs would be paying more than they currently are and Liz also noted that the largest programs with the most funding (theoretically with the largest staffs) would benefit the most in terms of less cost.  Steve K. will submit a more specific proposal to the BOD. 


Graduate Assistantships:  Currently, programs are allowed four “compensated” coaches: three paid coaches and a graduate assistant coach.  (Note: programs that sponsor a lightweight squad are allowed two additional coaches.)  Over the past year or two, a number of coaches have submitted that it might be more beneficial to the sport if that fourth position could be a paid position instead of having to be a GA.  The contention is that the GA is not actually a cost saver in that a GA can sometimes cost programs up to $40K from their budgets (classes, benefits, stipend, etc.)  And, many programs are unable to benefit from the option of having a GA because they don’t have a graduate school, admissions is too rigorous, out-of-state tuition makes it cost-prohibitive, the pool of interested candidates is very slim, etc.  Perhaps many more programs would benefit if they could have a fourth paid coach.  In many locations and instances, $5K could get you a coach that could make a significant impact on the experience of the student-athlete.  On a historical note… when the membership asked the NCAA for the fourth position a number of years ago, we asked for a paid coach, not a GA.  Somehow, at the higher-up level of the NCAA, it was approved as a GA.  Now, the question is whether we want to ask for it to change.  Bill will solicit feedback from the membership asap.  The legislative proposal would have to be submitted by the DI Rowing committee in June, published in the fall, considered/voted-on by the NCAA in January and could be in effective in time for August 2012.


Sponsorship:  We are very excited to announce that Pocock Racing Shells has renewed their sponsorship for another three-year term.  Their presence will increase as the “presenting sponsor” of the weekly spring coaching poll and they are also interested in helping out with the CRCA Coaching Conference in June.  There was some discussion about the value of the sponsorship and whether it is currently underpriced.  Regardless, it was recommended that we do as much to publicize their sponsorship via press-release of the renewal as well as encouraging all programs to be sure to include the name Pocock in any kind of release as well.  Bill is working on the release and will get it out soon.  Note:  Bill moved that we approve the renewal of the Pocock sponsorship, Steve K. seconded, all were in favor, none opposed, none abstained.


Championships and Competition (Co-Chairs Will Porter and Martin Stone):  The topic is about whether the AQ plan that is in place to begin at the 2013 DI championships is the best plan for the sport or whether there is something better out there to propose to the NCAA.  Will and Martin have been working on an alternate plan which Martin described at the CRCA Membership Meeting at the USRowing Convention and Will described at the impromptu CRCA Membership Meeting at the Joy of Sculling Conference a week later.  Will and Martin circulated the newest version of the proposal to the BOD after the New Year, very similar to what was covered at the November and December BOD and Membership meetings.  Jane, Steve P., Will, Steve K. and Jane responded to the proposal via email, copying the full board.  On today’s call Bill opened up the floor to Will and Will asked for any comments and suggestions relative to the proposal he had submitted.  Steve K. opened with two thoughts.  First, conversations with Marshall Foley of the DI Committee make him believe that there is no way the NCAA will consider a proposal regarding AQ’s until the current AQ plan is implemented for a few years.  Second, although the original idea was for the board to work towards reaching a unanimous position before recommending anything to the membership, Steve K. submits that it may be difficult to reach 100% support amongst the BOD for anything that changes the benefits of the AQ system to be implemented in 2013.  Regarding Steve’s first point, Kate expressed her concern that she had similar conversations with Marshall and that she worries we might be spending a lot of time on an issue that might be unchangeable for 2013.  Will submitted that the timeline shouldn’t matter and that what matters is continuing to work towards what is best for the sport.  Steve K. and Kate both agreed.  Jane noted that her administrator at Washington State sits on the DI Rowing Committee and has expressed optimism about potential for change away from AQ.  Steve K. addressed the goal of trying to reach 75% consensus, or better, and wondered whether we had ever reached it before on any decision.  Jane noted the 100% vote for reinstitution of the individual event medals year.  Bill cited the elimination of the at-large four a number of years ago.  Specific to the proposal, Bill recommended that the proposal not include specifics like where the regional championships are held and who selects the at-large teams/boats because the NCAA will have the jurisdiction to decide all of that.  Will emphasized that the pre-regional seeding would need to be spot-on as there are no reps (repechages).  Further comments revolved around the fact that if the regional regattas were to be used to generate an automatic qualifier, the NCAA would be administering the regattas and creating the rules and structure for them, but that the coaches and whoever else would be responsible for creating, running and paying for the events.  It is accepted that the NCAA will not pay for regional championships.  Furthermore, Lori noted that NCAA regional qualifiers in other sports are not open to every program in that region.  So, access may be in an issue, and Will and Martin are going to look into it.  Next topic was the plan for Play-Ins for 2013, at which point there could be up to eleven conferences eligible for up to eight AQ spots.  The timing is such… the DI Committee will be finalizing a Play-In plan in June and then the NCAA will take a look at it in September and make a final vote in January and it will all be set by August of 2012.  It is currently understood that the eighth-ranked conference champion will race off with the 9th, 10th and 11th ranked conference champion, at the NCAA venue on Wednesday, two days before the opening heats of the NCAA’s.  The winner will stay and the rest will go home.  Lori and Liz both voiced their concern that this plan is very unfair for the team that wins the Play-In and then has to turn around and begin competing at the NCAA’s two days later.  Bill submitted that while it isn’t physically optimal, it is much less fair to close the door on the opportunity for all of the competitors who are vying to gain a spot at that Play-In opportunity.  Finally, Steve P. and Will asked what would it take for an “AQ program” (a term that we are using respectfully to refer to programs who would be gaining access to the NCAA championships by virtue of winning their conference championship, but probably are not one of the 16 fastest programs in the country) to support something different than what is currently set to begin in 2013.  Steve K. responded that it would be very difficult to change his mind, as a supporter of AQ, regardless of how it affects his individual program, and perhaps as difficult to change the minds of coaches of other AQ programs.  One suggestion Steve K. submitted is that at least eight conference champions be guaranteed a V8 at the NCAAs and that all the remaining conference champions be guaranteed an opportunity to race at the Play-In.  Will responded that he believes that the Porter-Stone plan already does that.  Bill responded that he thinks that in the Porter-Stone plan it is possible that only five conference championship teams would be guaranteed a spot in the championships and that six would be required to race in the Play-In for five at-large eight spots.  Again, in that scenario, six at-large eights would be racing on Wednesday before the championship and one would go home.  Steve K. added that a scenario in which a conference championship yields only five full-teams for the championships would not be well received by AQ programs, regardless of how many receive bids for at-large eights, and especially if six conference champion V8s have to race on Wednesday of the NCAA’s. 


Expansion:  Jane expressed her eternal optimism regarding the possible expansion of the championship field.  Specifically, since men’s basketball has expanded their NCAA championship field from 64 to 68 teams, with a long term vision/dream of reaching over 90, she is going to look into the possibilities, long or short term, with regards to expanding the field at the NCAA Rowing Championships.


Awards (Co-Chairs Tessa Spillane and Kate Strum):  no report, as expected at this time of year.


Nominating (Chair Robyn Horner):  no report, as expected at this time of year.


Meeting adjourned at 2:54pm.