Athletic Board
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Evans Field House Hall of Fame Room, 1:00 p.m.

Present:  Gip Seaver (Chair), Nestor Osorio, Paul Bauer, Debbie Brue, Richard Dowen, Ray Dembinski, Keith Lambrecht, Ken Olson, Robert Wheeler, Marcia Dick, Ray Tourville, Joe True, Kevin Miller.

Guests:  Dee Abrahamson, Associate Athletics Director; Sheila Berg, Athletics Business Manager; Bobbie Cesarek, Compliance Officer; Robert Collins, Associate Athletics Director; Scott Lowenberg, Assistant Athletics Director – Marketing & Promotions.

I. Call to Order – Gip Seaver

II. Approval of January 16, 2002 Meeting Minutes

Richard Dowen made a motion to approve the January 16, 2002, meeting minutes.  Paul Bauer seconded the motion.

III. Committee Reports

A.     Budget
1.     Approval of First Quarterly Report

Ray Dembinski made a motion to approve the first quarterly report.  Keith Lambrecht seconded the motion.

Gip opened the floor to questions or comments regarding this report and reminded the Board that it was reviewed at the last meeting.  Having no comments or questions, the motion was carried.

2.     Second Quarterly Report

Ray Tourville provided a brief overview of the report and highlighted the major points.  He added that the Athletics Department has done a great job with the budget in light of some big challenges.  In 1997, the budget was required to pick up tuition waivers, in 1999, there was the addition of women’s track, and in 2001, there was an increase in the food plan.

Sheila Berg went on to say that the room and board rates may not change because of the two-year plan.  Another major hit taken by the budget was when the state eliminated general revenue funds from the budget, which at the time was approximately $2.5 million.

Gip then opened the floor to questions and reminded the Board that we will act on this at the next meeting.

Ray Tourville explained that for the first time, the budget subcommittee has been involved in looking at the fee structure.  The recommendation of a four-year plan that 1) mirrors whatever the University increases are and 2) asks that 4% per year over the next five years be added to the budget.  If we match any increases and add 4% over the next five years, the feeling is that the deficit could be eliminated.  This is the recommendation being presented at the next fee meeting.  Gip stated that he will be unable to attend that meeting and asked Ray Tourville to attend in his place.

Ray went on to say that the athletics administration has asked for this increase in the past but feels that if the budget subcommittee can move it forward, it might make the difference.  The budget subcommittee is looking for full Board support of this proposal.

Debbie Brue expressed the feeling that it is important the point be made that the deficit occurred between the years when the athletics budget did not mirror the increases from the university.

Dick Dowen asked if in part of support of this could go back and look historically at what the athletic fee and room and board have been and calculate them in today’s numbers. We may want to consider forming the motion in those terms.  Dick’s thinking is that the fee should be “x” percentage of tuition and room and board then it would automatically mirror those increases.  Gip agreed with Dick’s suggestion.  No one has really looked at the percentage of the total cost.  He pointed out that tomorrow’s fee meeting is the place for the Athletic Board and Athletics Department to present what they think it should be.  He feels the data would be very useful for a follow-up meeting.

Ray Dembinski said we must be careful of imposing this as a cap.  Gip feels the budget subcommittee should look at this issue as well.  Gip then asked Kevin Miller, the Student Association representative, what his reaction as a student is to this proposal.  Kevin feels it is a lot of money and it will be hard to get other students on board for this proposal but there is some necessity for this.

Ray Tourville then made a motion to have a five-year plan with 4% per year increase to make up the deficit with the promise that this would be in addition to the mirroring of any University increases.  Debbie Brue seconded the motion.  The motion was carried unanimously.

Paul Bauer then asked if the increase in fees is not realized, should alternatives even be discussed?  This is a tough question but it needs to be asked.

Ray Dembinski said historically, the budget subcommittee here has always been in a position of reporting the deficit and left the administration to deal with it.  This is the first time the Board is recommending a strategy to address the issue.  Gip expressed his appreciation for the good job the subcommittee has done in looking at the alternatives for dealing with the deficit.  The money will either come from a plan or the administration decides that Athletics has the right to use general revenue monies to address this.  Paul Bauer then stated that knowing what the budget situation is, when discussing the issue with individuals from Lowden Hall, the money would have to come from some other area.  He does not see where that amount of money would come from.  Gip said the Athletic Board’s role for the first time is to start directly addressing this issue.  By discussing it and making it visible in the minutes, it shows that other options must be explored.  Ray Tourville said if it is not addressed, at least the Board is making a stand.  We need to make those who deal with the fees aware of all the issues.

B.     Gender Equity
Debbie Brue reported that it was noted in last month’s minutes the committee’s readiness to administer the survey.   The committee has been made aware that it is no longer necessary to do this survey and has been advised to change priorities.  The question arose at their committee meeting whether Athletics is truly meeting the letter and spirit of the law or, more importantly, NIU’s program goals.

The committee has taken both the gender equity and diversity plans developed during the NCAA certification process in June 2000 and will be looking at the strategic plan and responding to each goal of those plans.  A comprehensive study will be done and then a report should be forthcoming in either April or May.  Gip stated that a report of this type has previously been done by the University and wondered if it is still done either yearly or periodically.  Robert Wheeler said a report is filed once a year and that Admasu Zike coordinates it.  He also believes there is a portion of the report dealing with Athletics.

C.     Scheduling
No report.
D.     Student Welfare
No report.  The committee has not yet met.
E.     Public Relations
Nestor Osorio reported that the committee has not yet met.  A topic has been identified for discussion which is how to market the athletics program to NIU faculty and staff members.

Robert Wheeler said if there is some way to make the faculty and staff feel special in the process, it would be helpful.  Scott Lowenberg, director of marketing, said a mailing for all faculty and staff may be forthcoming inviting them to a tailgate party at President Peters’ home.

Dr. Wheeler went on to payroll deduction is currently not an option for purchasing seats and asked if an opportunity should be given to faculty and staff members to tour the convocation center before it is open.  Faculty members who are interested in athletics will not have a problem getting the seats they want.  We need to make them aware of what is going on with the convocation center.  Scott said they might receive a note from Cary Groth and President Peters inviting them to New Faculty Welcome Days.  It might be good to get a coach to make an appearance there and stimulate interest.

IV.     Athletics Director’s Update
A.     Jawan Jackson situation

Robert Collins, associate athletics director, began by expressing to the Board the fact that the athletic training staff did everything it could to save this young man.  Phil Voorhis, head athletic trainer, was there working with Jawan.  Following Jawan’s death, Robert worked with many departments on campus to deal with the situation.  You can be proud of how the university responded.  We have gotten monetary donations for the family and the football program wants to raise another $2,000 for the family.  Two busloads of football players attended Jawan’s funeral on Saturday, February 9.  They represented Northern Illinois University and the football program in a first-class manner.  The University stepped up with counseling services for the coaches and athletes.

Gip said the issue came up with the notification of the Board regarding Jawan’s death.  He chose to e-mail the Board because information was fairly sketchy about how the university would be responding to questions and the media.   Gip decided not to pass along information to the Board because if someone were contacted who didn’t have all the information, it might have gotten touchy.  He will communicate things when he feels it appropriate but at the time, he needed more information which was not available to him.

B.     Dee Abrahamson

1.     Volleyball

There has recently been attention given to volleyball by the media.  What Dee can say is that three players are leaving the team because of violation of team policies.  An additional player may transfer.  We are now left with four to five scholarship players returning next year of the 12 players from this year.  Two have signed national letters of intent and two will be walk-ons.  Dee is unsure of what else might be in the press.  Lawyers are currently involved and it is an unfortunate situation.

2.     Personnel

a.     New staff members

Steve Christiansen has joined the men’s basketball staff while Ed Molitor has been away from the office.  It is a goal of Steve’s to be involved in basketball so he can learn it from the inside out.  It is great to have him available to us.

Gina Delmont has gone full-time with Kinesiology and Physical Education.  There will not be a replacement for her within Athletics this year.

Greg Bower has replaced assistant coach Mike Priefer in football.  Greg did a great job as one of our graduate assistants and the coaches have a great deal of confidence in him.

Steve Ekhoff has joined the marketing office replacing Andy Read.  Steve’s primary responsibilities will be licensing and marketing football and men’s basketball.

There will be some staffing changes due to the move to the convocation center.  Some current personnel will have new duties, additional responsibilities, etc.  Further changes are coming in the next 30 to 60 days because of the convocation center.

Dr. Wheeler asked when SASS (Student Athlete Support Services) will be moving to the convocation center.  Dee said the most current information she has is that the move is slated for July.  She has also heard Athletics was scheduled to move within four days of the Barsema move and if that is the case, she suspects Athletics’ will wait to move.

V.     Old Business
A.     NCAA Proposed Academic Standards

Ray Dembinski began his report by first distribution information highlighting the comparison of NCAA and NIU academic standards.  He clarified that DARS is a degree auditing software system.  We have been able to use this given some issues at Registration and Records.  The system would calculate NCAA eligibility as well as degree status.  Dr. Wheeler added that he is unsure that DARS will calculate NCAA eligibility.  Bobbie Cesarek said the more we mirror the NCAA’s standards, the more we will be able to use DARS.

Ray continued by saying the Board had talked last month about issues he and Bobbie have dealt with regarding eligibility.  They have been working with Registration and Records on these policies.  We will stay with the fall and spring certification timeline.  This allows us to monitor more closely a student-athlete who is academically at risk.

On February 6, Ray and Bobbie received an e-mail from Registration and Records stating they have reviewed the comparison chart and found all differences have been eliminated except the GPA requirement and fall and spring certification.  Based on some good discussion, most of the issues have now been resolved.  The continuing challenges will be to deal with catalog language in specific programs with unwritten prerequisites which increase degree hours.  This will need to be discussed further so everyone is comfortable with that. There are a couple of programs on this campus to which this issue relates.

Paul Bauer said there are so many degree programs here but we have programs that take more than the minimum 120 hours.  Is there a chart listing every possible degree in the university?  Ray Dembinski said if it is in the catalogue language, that is what the calculations are based on.  Paul went on to say that if there is a particular program or degree which requires additional work, it seems that it ought to be stated in the catalogue.  Keith Lambrecht said the contract major is also an issue.

Paul went on to ask if the NCAA discusses the letter of the law versus the intent of the law.  Ray said the faculty athletics representatives at other MAC institutions are comfortable meeting the intent of the policies.

Ray Dembinski then proceeded to present the NCAA proposed academic standards.  They would take effect in Fall 2003.  If the graduate rates of programs do not reach a certain level, the program could be penalized by reducing the number of scholarships they are able to offer.  We are in good shape here.

VI.     New Business
A.     2002-03 Basketball Ticket Prices

Scott Lowenberg began by distributing copies of the seating chart for the Convocation Center.  The goal is to sell out the lower bowl.  He stressed that there are plenty of student seats available and hopes more students attend our games.

Because of Cary’s absence from today’s meeting, Gip asked that this topic be held until next month when Cary is in attendance.

Scott then went on to discuss basketball season tickets.  We are trying to reward our current donors and attract new ones.  Season tickets will be sold on different dates.  The first dates for seat selection will be for donors and current season ticket holders.  The Huskie Club point system will be utilized and it takes into account the number of years someone has been a donor, the amount they give, and also the number of years they have been a season ticket holder.  The next dates for seat selection will be for season ticket holders who are not donors to the athletics program.  We have approximately 500 season ticket holders for men’s basketball.  Keith Lambrecht asked if there is a faculty/staff rate because he believes this would be a good group to market to in particular.   Scott assured Keith there is a faculty/staff ticket price.

Ray Tourville then expressed his hope that seats will not be sold in a manner similar to that which was used some years ago for football seats.  It caused hard feelings when it was time to “renew” your seats.

Because of the number of questions asked in Cary’s and Eric Schultz’s absence, Gip requested that the ticket price discussion be tabled until the next meeting.

VII.     Adjournment

Paul Bauer made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Debbie Brue seconded the motion.  Carried unanimously.

The next meeting of the Athletic Board is Wednesday, March 20, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. in Holmes Student Center Room #505.  The executive committee will meet Wednesday, March 6, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. in the Evans Field House conference room.