Northwestern State University President Dr. Randall J. Webb found a great deal of common ground on ideas to reform intercollegiate athletics last week when he attended at an NCAA Presidential Retreat in Indianapolis. 

Webb was one of 50 presidents of Division I institutions selected to be part of the NCAA Presidential Advisory Group, which provided input to the NCAA Board of Directors.  The retreat looked to drive substantive change on issues affecting the collegiate model of athletics and discussed direction for the division for the coming years.

The Northwestern president was part of a smaller group of chief executives of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) institutions who held separate meetings for a day and a half to talk about common issues and improving FCS football.

“There was a strong emphasis on sustaining the current collegiate model of intercollegiate athletics and assigning a high priority to student-athlete success and welfare,” said Webb. “Another main point was individual and institutional integrity. The discussions were very stimulating. I was impressed with the contributions made by my fellow presidents.”

Webb said one thing he expects to happen as a result of the meetings is a simplification of the NCAA Rulebook.

“There is a consensus that there are a lot of unnecessary rules and regulations,” he said. “The focus should be on the more egregious types of violations.”

The Presidential Advisory Group also voted to recommend improved academic standards for student-athletes and tie a team’s academic performance to participation in all NCAA championships and strengthen the academic requirements for incoming freshmen and student-athletes who transfer from two-year institutions.

The FCS presidents discussed ways to better promote FCS (formerly known as 1-AA) football.

“A focal point was the FCS Championship. We talked about what we could do to enhance, promote and market the Championship as well as the FCS playoffs,” said Webb. “Having the championship in Frisco, Texas, is going to help grow the game.”

The Southland Conference hosts the FCS Championship game.

Webb and the other presidents were presented with an overview of FCS history and the current financial shape of its membership. Presidents also talked about future plans for the subdivision.

“FCS football offers some unique opportunities for the membership,” said Webb. “You compete against institutions with similar resources and the championship is decided by the players on the field. Those are some positive aspects we want to enhance in the years to come.”

Webb represented the Southland Conference at the meeting.