Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Holmes Student Center #306, 1:00 p.m.

Present:  Gip Seaver (Chair), Paul Bauer, Debbie Brue, Richard Dowen, Ray Dembinski, Cary Groth, Earl Hansen, Keith Lambrecht, Nancy Nuzzo, Jeff Parness, Robert Wheeler, Brian Scholle, Nolan Davis, Sarah Hammer.

Guests:  Dee Abrahamson, Associate Athletics Director; Sheila Berg, Athletics Business Manager; Scott Lowenberg, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing.

I.     Call to Order – Dr. Gip Seaver

Gip began by welcoming everyone to the Athletic Board meeting.  Since there are some new members this year, everyone was asked to introduce himself or herself and provide their affiliations and representation.

II.     Approval of June 27, 2001 Meeting Minutes

Earl Hansen made a motion to approve the June 27, 2001 meeting minutes.  Keith Lambrecht seconded the motion.

Having no corrections or additions to the minutes, the motion was carried unanimously.

Keith Lambrecht asked that the secretary provide for all Board members a complete listing of members’ phone numbers, campus address, and e-mail address.

III.     Introduction of New Athletic Department Staff Member – Scott Lowenberg

Cary Groth began by saying that the previous director of marketing, Cam Pepper, took a position at the University of Tulsa in March.  Since that time, the external affairs area has undergone some restructuring and has developed a new position.  What was originally the associate athletics director for external affairs has been changed to the assistant athletics director for marketing and promotions.  NIU is fortunate to have hired Scott Lowenberg for this position.  He was at the University of Maine for six years and prior to that, he was at Southern Mississippi where he received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees.  Cary then asked Scott to speak to the Board.

Scott stated that he is originally from Rock Island and grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa, so he has a good feeling for this area.   He is pleased to get back to Division I-A football and to go into a new arena.  One of Scott’s priorities will be corporate sponsorships which bring in money to help the sports budgets.  He will also be focusing on advertising, radio, and television broadcasts.  Another area he will be concentrating on is ticket sales for football and men’s and women’s basketball.  This is 99% of his job for the next two years.  After that, he will move into other areas of concentration.  He wants to get the word out about Huskie Athletics.

IV.     Committees

Before going through committee overviews, Gip stated that this Board does a lot of work within a committee structure.  Further discussion about the Board’s activities this year will come under New Business.  He asked a representative from each committee to provide an overview of committee activities from last year.

There may be some lingering items but please provide a highlight or what has been done or worked on in the past.  We will talk about goals and directions for the committees later in the meeting.

A.     Scheduling

Jeff Parness stated that this particular committee does what the name suggests, which is to review scheduling events for all sports.  The packet of materials for today’s meeting is a good example of what the committee works on.  Not only does it address scheduling of opponents home and away and also provides input with regard to the future direction but is particularly attentive to class responsibilities our student-athletes must meet.  The committee wants to intrude as little as possible on the students’ academic and exam schedules.  Scheduling provides advice and counsel as requested by the Athletics Department regarding the future direction of the program.  The committee may be involved in conversation about how our new facility may be used.

B.     Gender Equity

Debbie Brue reported that this committee is also what the name implies, which is to make sure opportunities are equal for both men and women within the athletics program.

Last year the committee worked on the strategic plan with Athletics.  NIU has a good reputation with regard to gender equity.  They are still working on a survey which will be completed this fall.  Gip said this survey must be done by November.  The committee is also working within the continuing relationship we have with the Office for Civil Rights, the Commitment to Resolve, and the history of our situation with OCR.

C.     Budget

Sheila Berg stated that the budget committee reviews Athletics’ budget on a quarterly basis and reviews the recommendations for our new budget in the spring.  It also reviews ticket prices and the complimentary ticket policies.

Gip stated that this committee will have a couple of additional tasks this year.  The first will be to work on preparing a long-range plan for the funding of Athletics.

Paul Bauer said that as a member of the budget committee, he is unsure a plan can be developed by the committee.  It is an issue of getting more money or cutting areas.  He is concerned about what the response to this task will be.  Gip said the Board needs to present some suggestions to the President in writing.  The Board will look closely at the issues of both revenue and expenditures.

The second task for the committee will be to prepare a fee request from the Athletic Board to Finance and Facilities in preparation of the fee study.  Athletics has developed various scenarios for Finance and Facilities but the Board did not participate in that.  Gip would like to get the Board involved.  A couple of scenarios have been developed but a plan can be developed to show what it costs for relief and future programming.  At the end of last year, the message was given that the Board is uncomfortable approving a budget with a projected deficit.

Nolan Davis said looking through the list of sources of revenue, he does not see what can be changed significantly.  He thinks it may be difficult to get money through a student fee.  Gip said he wants the budget committee to work with the athletics administration to educate the Board on this issue.  Gip believes the Board needs to get involved in the discussion. and now is the time to do so.  If we are talking about revenue other than student fees, that has some implications for everything Athletics does.

D.     Faculty Athletics Representative

Dr. Dembinski stated that he is appointed by the President and reports to him directly through Dr. Anne Kaplan.  Dr. Dembinski’s primary duties are to provide input with regard to eligibility issues, represent the institution and the department with regard to the NCAA and the MAC, work with the compliance staff in assessing status relative to rules compliance, either NCAA or MAC, sit on committees as requested.

E.     Student Welfare

Gip said this was a committee established to look at the overall welfare of student-athletes.  Approximately three years ago, the committee did a survey of athletes regarding a number of issues related to student support.  The feeling is that it is time to survey the athletes again.  The process needs to be redesigned due to the very labor-intensive nature of the project.  We will be asking the committee to look at the past survey and process and to prepare a new one to be administered later this year.

F.     Huskie Club

Brian Scholle reported that the Huskie Club is the outside funding group of Huskie Athletics.  It undertakes fundraising activities, planning social gatherings, football bus trips, backcourt social events for basketball, tailgating events, etc.

Cary Groth stated that in the past year, the number of gifts received through the Huskie Club has increased.  Those funds were used to the maximum.  Our coaching staff does a great job with restricted  giving (a gift given to a specific sport or unit).  Stacy Allie, assistant athletics director, has reported that we are approximately $20,000 ahead of where we were last year at this time.  It helps to have a good feel or a little bit of athletics success.

Gip stated that on occasion, ad hoc committees may be established.

V.     New Business
A.     Fourth Quarter Report

This report is being presented today as an informational item but will be acted upon at our October meeting.

This information does not include personnel and is not a budget derived from other sources such as bond revenue, etc.  This is basically an income fund representing student fees and other revenue from gate, parking, etc.  Please refer to the Policies and Procedures manual to identify other sources of income for the athletics program.

Sheila reported that she had met with Ray Tourville about this report and will review the highlights only for.

Following her review, the floor was opened to questions.  Cary reiterated that the Board does not like approving a deficit budget but we have tried to hold it as close as possible.  We do have a headstart on identifying some items that will help the budget committee.  Cary went on to publicly thank Sheila Berg and the coaches who do a very good job with their budgets.  The department really does watch what it spends and how it spends.

Earl Hansen asked where income from media sources is shown in this report and if it is broken down by sport.  Sheila said only football and men’s and women’s basketball would have income from media.  Earl then asked for clarification of “Athletic Board Travel.”  That item covers the faculty athletics representative’s travel to NCAA and/or MAC meetings.

Brian Scholle asked about revenue from the convocation center.  Cary explained the Daktronics agreement required us to meet a threshold.  This summer, advertising rights were bought back from Daktronics for the convocation center.  The convocation center’s director of marketing and Athletics’ director of marketing will be out selling those boards.  The agreement is still 65% to NIU and 35% to the university of monies brought in above the agreed-upon threshold.  Cary added that since having constructed the west side premium seats, we had enough  funds to pay for the new turf.  The Premier Club seat holders’ funds helped purchase that turf.  Also, the newly-expanded video board will be operational this weekend.  Brian went on to ask what percentage of the premium seats are sold.  Cary is unsure but believes approximately 70% of the chairbacks are sold.

Gip reminded the Board members that they will vote on this report at next month’s meeting.

B.     01-02 Basketball Ticket Prices

1.     Women’s Basketball

Ray Dembinski made a motion to approve the 01-02 women’s basketball ticket prices as presented.  Debbie Brue seconded the motion.

Sheila Berg pointed out that these ticket prices are exactly the same as last year’s prices.  Brian Scholle asked what the ticket prices will be for the convocation center.  Cary responded that those have not been set but will come forward later.  The budget committee will work with Sheila and Eric Schultz, athletics ticket manager, on this.  Brian went on to ask if we shouldn’t be implementing transitional prices now.  Cary said it is too early.

Having no further discussion, the motion was carried.

2.     Men’s Basketball

Earl Hansen made a motion to approve the 01-02 men’s basketball ticket prices as presented.  Ray Dembinski seconded the motion.

Sheila stated that these tickets are also the same as last year’s but because there is one less game this year, the total price is less.

Having no further discussion, the motion was carried.

C.     01-02 Basketball Complimentary Ticket Policy

Debbie Brue made a motion to approve the 01-02 basketball complimentary ticket policy as presented.  Paul Bauer seconded the motion.

Gip pointed out that everything here is exactly the same as last year.  Brian Scholle asked if the Huskie Club representative on the Athletic Board could be shown on the comp policy as receiving two tickets.

Having no further discussion, the motion was carried.   Cary stated that this requires approval because it is used for the internal audit.

D.     01-02 Athletics schedules update

Dee Abrahamson began discussion by saying the first challenge with these sports schedules was to comply with the safe transportation policy.  The second challenge occurred due to cancellations last week because of the events in New York and Washington, DC.  The changes will definitely have an effect on our days away but we certainly don’t want to cause too much change.  Traditionally, these would go to the scheduling committee who would check everything over but with Leon Keutzer’s retirement and only having a committee of one person other than herself, she is bringing all schedule changes before the whole Board today.

Gip said one of the major points of consideration by the Board relative to schedules is the scheduling of contests during finals.  There are none here except competitions for NCAA or tournament-mandated play.  Dee went on to say that the largest increase in days away is ½ day for women’s soccer.  All other numbers are a reduction in days away.  Earl Hansen pointed out that it is difficult to schedule when other schools do not share the same finals schedule.

Brian Scholle asked if there is any more talk of moving baseball and softball into the summer.  Dee responded that discussion is ongoing daily.  TV exposure is an issue.

Earl then asked for clarification of baseball and softball games counting as one event or do doubleheaders count as two contests.  Dee said it depends on the sport.  She is still anticipating further changes for meets or games this weekend.

Paul Bauer asked why the women’s basketball schedule is not included in the packet being considered.  Cary responded that the MAC women’s basketball schedule is an issue yet.  They are still working on it but it should be forthcoming at the October meeting.  Cary said something different needs to be done because the schedule cards and posters need to be printed.

Ray Dembinski asked if the schedule is still fluid based on what is happening with travel.  Dee said if a scheduling committee is put together quickly, she can update them daily on schedules.

Having no further discussion, Debbie Brue made a motion to approve the 01-02 athletics schedule updates as presented.  Paul Bauer seconded the motion.

Motion carried unanimously.

Paul Bauer then asked if anything can be done with MAC scheduling as it seems to be frustrating.  Cary responded that so far, this issue has not gotten any better.  At every single meeting of MAC athletics directors, it is a topic of discussion.  The nature of the problem is unclear but it will be a topic at the October MAC meetings.

Nolan Davis said it appears to be a MAC leadership issue.  Cary stated that the MAC leadership is very good; it is just a combination of many issues.  Their office may not have the personnel to handle this in a more timely way.  She has submitted this as an agenda item for the October meeting.

Earl asked if there is a solution to this issue.  Cary believes the MAC athletics directors must set a timeline and hold the MAC administration to it.

E.     01-02 Plans

Gip began discussion by saying a number of things are addressed by the Board yearly.  There are other items the Board should get involved with.

One of the things that Ray, Cary, and Gip have discussed is getting the Board to be more proactive relative to issues NIU and Intercollegiate Athletics are going to have to face.  Gip would like to propose that the Board take a proactive stance on a couple of issues this year so we are ready to advise the President on how to respond to some of the external pressures that will be developing in the near future.

One of these issues is Division I-A status.  There is a good deal of discussion within the NCAA regarding changing the requirements for Division I-A membership.  The Knight Commission has already communicated some of this information.  Ray, Cary and Gip feel this would be a very good time for the Athletic Board to review the total athletic program and evaluate it relative to what it would take and what would be the consequences of remaining Division I-A.  Gip believes the university will have to make a decision as this issue gets sorted out.  We will have to make an institutional stand.  There are implications for scheduling, facilities, financing, minimum requirements as suggested for the number of programs you have, attendance at events, etc.  All of these areas must be reviewed relative to making a decision.

Gip went on to say that he wants to propose that the Board undertake this as one of its activities.  The Board has not had a lot of tough topics in the recent past but we certainly would have time to deal with thin within our meeting format.  We do not need to decide this today.  At the October meeting, we will spend a significant amount of time looking at issues.  Gip has information from the NCAA and the Knight Commission and is asking that the Board get involved this year.  We would talk about the implications for various decisions that may have to be made.  We can then discuss the plan, what subcommittees can do, what to do with the data when it comes back, and then discuss options, consequences of decisions, etc.

Dr. Wheeler asked if this is a mandate from the president or would we be doing this of our own volition.  Gip said this is not something that has been mandated by the president.  Gip will let President Peters know the status and keep him informed.  Cary added that the timing is good to position ourselves with regard to this issue.

Dr. Wheeler asked if the outcome of this review would be a set of recommendations to the president.  Gip said it would be more an issue of “if we are going with Division I-A, we need to address these issues……”  We hope to be more of a resource to the president.

Earl Hansen said that he would look forward to being able to do something other than reviewing schedules and budgets.

Ray Dembinski said as it relates to implications, there is a group of schools on the fringe who would be affected by I-A requirement changes and we are one of them.  We need to make a decision as to what is appropriate for NIU.  A significant number of MAC schools are in this situation with us.  Dr. Wheeler asked if any other MAC schools have instituted such a review.  Cary said she will check at next month’s MAC meetings.  She went on to say if Marshall leaves the MAC, they have one of the highest attendance rates for football.  If they stay and we bring in Central Florida as a football-only member, they also have good attendance figures for football.

Ray Dembinski pointed out that the I-A criteria are being proposed by the very group of schools the Knight Commission is railing against vis a vis their practices.  We are a program which balances athletics with academics.

Gip said he will provide copies of the Knight Commission information for everyone at the October meeting.  It was suggested that the Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article regarding this issue, too.  Dick Dowen mentioned another interesting article about the problems at the University of Kansas.

Gip said he will contact President Peters to further discuss this issue.

Ray Dembinski made a motion to approve the Athletic Board moving forward with a review of Intercollegiate Athletics relative to Division I-A status.  Paul Bauer seconded the motion.

Jeff Parness said he was leaving today’s meeting with concern.  In talking about the Mid-American Conference, it seems to be a conference there what people are most unhappy with is the central office.  It seems to be the same with respect to the NCAA.  If you speculate in terms of the Knight Commission, most of the schools would be with us but we seem to be losing ground.  It seems that the tail is wagging the dog here.  Why most college and universities can’t band together and make their position known, seems odd.  Cary an evaluation of the NCAA’s new structure and management came out and the feeling seems to be that they are both detrimental to member institutions.  With the NCAA, it is all about money.

Having no further discussion, the motion was carried.

VI.     Adjournment

Earl Hansen made a motion to adjourn.  Paul Bauer seconded the motion.  Carried unanimously.

The next meeting of the Athletic Board is scheduled for Wednesday, October 17, 2001, in Gabel Hall #148 (PLEASE NOTE ROOM LOCATION).  The Executive Committee will meet in the Evans Field House Conference Room on Wednesday, October 3, 2001, at 1:00 p.m.