Byrne reflects on NCAA

2011-07-19T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T15:45:10Z Byrne reflects on NCAAPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 19, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Editor's note: This is the third in a three-day series featuring University of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne reflecting on his first year here and his expectations of what's to come.

In a sitdown interview with the Star last week, published the past two days, UA athletic director Greg Byrne has talked about the future of his department.

Today, he addresses the future of college sports. Byrne suggests that, in the near future, Bowl Championship Series schools could reimburse revenue-earning players or even form a new division of college sports:

If we're here five years from now having a conversation, what do you think we're talking about that would be surprising? Is there something on the horizon?

A: There's a lot of debate right now about full cost-of-attendance stipends for student-athletes. I think that's a very, very complex issue.

Whether they should be paid? The idea that scholarships may fall short of the cost of living? The idea that players should be compensated?

A: Exactly. Can you market yourself? Things like that. I think we need to look at the ability to give your student-athletes the best experience you can.

The reality is, a lot of the BCS schools could probably be in a position to add to that scholarship cost. Not all of them, though - there's some conferences that don't have the same level of multimedia contracts to give them that flexibility.

But who do you do it for? Are you doing it for everybody that's on a full-ride scholarship? Or are you doing it for football and men's basketball?

If you did it that way, what are the Title IX implications for it? There are a lot of things, I think, that need to be discussed that aren't going to take three months. That will probably take a few years.

Because, all of a sudden, does another level of NCAA membership become a possibility?

In football, the idea the bigger money schools will have their own division? And then smaller-level D-I schools would turn into something else entirely?

A: Could it? Don't know.

Assuming you're in the BCS part that remains the highest level … is that idea good for Arizona?

A: Depends how it's structured. Don't know. I remember when my dad left Oregon in 1992 to go to Nebraska (as athletic director) … I remember reading a story saying my dad thinks that 20 years from now there could be a "Super 60" or 64 or 70, I can't remember the exact number.

It's pretty ironic that here we are 20 years from now talking about that…

Could there be that kind of level? Maybe. Obviously the presidents will be the ones that decide that. The athletic directors will hopefully have some influence on that one.

Would it be good for the sport?

A: Would it be good for the (schools) at our level? Probably so.

Would it lead to a playoff?

A: Certainly could be another piece of that puzzle, yes.

You're not a lawyer, but in your mind is it fair to reimburse or pay a stipend to the best player on your men's basketball team and not the worst scholarship player on a sport that earns no income for the school?

A: Based on our capitalistic society, yes. But the NCAA is not based on that.

Do you think if the 'Super 64' could theoretically happen, it would not be under the NCAA?

A: I have a hard time imagining that. But I also am realistic enough to know that things change.

What's happened at Oregon, the controversy at Auburn, Ohio State, in the last year in college sports … is that a reflection of an inequity in the reimbursement of players? Or will that always be there?

A: I don't know if that would be eliminated by what we're talking about, full cost of attendance.

Are there issues looming with any UA sports that aren't moneymakers?

A: I was really pleased with the progress we made as a department across those sports. We had some NCAA champions. … It didn't just come this year; it took years in the making to get to. I believe we have the ability to be a top-10 institution.

How do you get enough people in the seats to jibe with the success? Is there a way for women's basketball, for example, to have a bigger crowd?

A: If you look across the country at the schools that have drawn well in women's basketball, the demographic of who attends their game is much different than who attends the men's games - families, retired people. You hope you can get some of the student body out.

If you're marketing your women's program at your men's game, I don't know that that's your most effective resource. I think you're much better marketing your women's game at your football game.

You have a wider variety of people that are going to be attending those games. I think we should draw well here; I believe in what (coach) Niya (Butts) is doing.

Can you place an ad at the back of the new football scoreboard?

A: Yes. If we were to look at something to go on the back of the scoreboard, we would obviously be very respectful of anything the neighborhoods around there would be concerned with. At this point, we have not sold or put anything on the back other than the block 'A.'

Are you any closer today than when you got here to naming rights for the stadium?

A: We've had some conversations.

Will it happen before the start of the football season?

A: No.

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