The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

Historic changes bring increasing sums of money to college sports

Tue, May 23 2023, 11am

In a presentation that intrigued college sports fans and non-fans alike, UMRA’s May 2023 Forum at the Campus Club featured Mark Coyle and Jeremiah Carter of the University of Minnesota Athletics Department. Coyle, athletic director, and Carter, associate athletic director for name, image and likeness (NIL) policy and risk management, provided an overview of the current state of University athletics and discussed two historic changes in intercollegiate athletics that have occurred in the past two years.

Retired Athletics Director Joel Maturi introduced Coyle and Carter, commenting that no time in the past 117 years has seen more change in college sports. Maturi praised Coyle and Carter's leadership and said the University has achieved the highest GPA and graduation rates for student athletes in the school's history under Coyle's tenure as athletics director.

Coyle focused his remarks on the current state of university athletics. The University has 650 student athletes, 22 varsity sports, and a current budget of $125.6 million. This ranks ninth in the Big Ten and represents less than three percent of the University's overall budget, he said. Starting fall 2024, the Big Ten conference will expand to include two West Coast schools, USC and UCLA. College presidents, not athletic directors, made this decision, Coyle explained, and it is all driven by TV revenues. [As reported in the Star Tribune and elsewhere when the expansion was announced last summer, the Big Ten media rights resulting from the expansion “could give the Gophers and the other member schools a chance to share $1 billion a year.”]

Graduating student athletes

The number one goal of the University’s program is to graduate student athletes, Coyle said. With a graduation rate of 94 percent and an average GPA of 3.41, the University ranks among the best institutions in the country. Seven athletes won Big Ten titles last year and one of those won a national title. In the Learfield Directors Cup, a national measurement that tracks schools' championships, the University ranked 14th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten.

Coyle highlighted the athletic successes of the football program, which brings in 90 percent of the department's revenue. He also lauded the qualifications of two recent "visible" hires: women's volleyball coach Keegan Cook and women's basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit.

Finally, Coyle discussed the University's new "Champions for Life" program. This program gives student athletes the opportunity to earn further financial support when they complete additional educational programming and maintain academic performance. The program was implemented in fall 2022 after the Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that NCAA rules limiting education benefits violated antitrust laws.

Many challenges for universities—and student athletes

Carter focused his remarks on two changes in NCAA rules that alter the landscape for universities and their student athletes: the transfer portal and de-regulation of name, image and likeness (NIL) restrictions. The transfer portal is a database maintained by the NCAA. Students interested in transferring can enter their names in the database and other schools may contact them. The database itself is not the problem, Carter said, but a perfect storm was created when the NCAA also implemented a one-time transfer exception allowing students to transfer without waiting a year. This, along with an extra year to play due to COVID, created 188,710 extra seasons of eligibility, leading to a lot of volatility and potential transfers for schools to manage.

Prior to the summer of 2021, the NCAA prohibited students from using their name, image or likeness  for any promotional activity. Once this NIL restriction was lifted, effective July 1, 2021, things changed very quickly. Donors and boosters formed "collectives" to provide NIL opportunities for student athletes (Dinkytown Athletes in the Twin Cities is one example), and some students began hiring agents and earning outside money in large amounts. Student athletes at the University earned more than $1 million in NIL money during the 2021–22 academic year, Carter said. There is at least one student in all 22 varsity sports earning NIL money at the University and the overall participation rate is 25 percent.

NIL activities, especially when involved in recruiting new students and potential transfers, have created many challenges for universities. NCAA rules prohibit NIL offers during recruiting but there has been little to no enforcement by the NCAA. The rules also prohibit colleges and conferences from paying NIL money directly or negotiating on the students' behalf. Practices differ among institutions, however, because there may be applicable state laws, university policies, and different levels of NCAA compliance at play, Carter said. There also is a lack of transparency about what other schools are doing.

NIL offers can disadvantage student athletes, too. Some colleges are making false promises to students, Carter said, and there is the question of whether NIL money is sustainable from year to year. It also is unclear how collectives will be treated under Title 9.

Carter said the University emphasizes to students that they should come here because it is the right choice overall, and the major goal is to earn a degree. NIL is a short window while a degree lasts forever. The University also makes clear that collectives are boosters, and that prospective students can't have NIL opportunities before they commit to the University and are here.

There was a lively question and answer period following the presentations by Coyle and Carter, with most of the questions focusing on NIL and the increasing sums of money involved in college sports. Both Coyle and Carter responded candidly, further sharing their expertise and perspectives. UMRA was fortunate to have these two speakers at our May 2023 Forum, and it is clear they are the right people to help the University navigate these historic changes. 

—Barbara Shiels, UMRA Program Committee

NOTE: Members of the University of Minnesota Retirees Association met at the Campus Club in Minneapolis for UMRA's 2023 Annual Meeting and Forum on May 23. President Ron Matross announced the results of the election (held earlier online) of new officers and directors, and thanked the outgoing board members for their service. President-elect Eric Hockert then spoke briefly about his plans for the coming year, and conveyed the UMRA Board's appreciation to Ron for his leadership. The future of intercollegiate athletics was the focus of the forum (starting at 9'15" on the event recording) that followed the annual meeting.

Event recording
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The future of intercollegiate athletics at the U of M

Tue, May 23 2023, 11am
Mark Coyle
Director of Athletics
University of Minnesota

Campus Club, Fourth Floor, Coffman Memorial Union

Intercollegiate athletics is undergoing revolutionary changes that will alter the industry in dramatic ways, possibly including its relationship to higher education. To help us understand the changes, UMRA’s May 23 forum will feature Mark Coyle, University of Minnesota director of athletics (AD), and Jeremiah Carter, longtime director of athletics compliance and newly appointed senior associate athletic director for name, image, likeness (NIL) policy and risk management. Our athletic department and our athletics compliance office are ground zero for these changes. 

Coyle will talk about the Big Ten Conference realignment (announced in 2022); the portal that allows student athletes to easily change schools; coaching changes in our athletics department; and the accomplishments of athletics over the just-completed year. Carter will discuss the new rules that allow student athletes to seek payment for the use of their name, image, and likeness, and the effect of the rules on our athletics department as well as all intercollegiate athletics. The NIL policy has allowed millions of dollars to be paid to student athletes and will change the nature of college athletics.

Coyle has been the director of athletics at Minnesota since 2016. Previously, he served as athletics director at Syracuse University and Boise State University. He also served as an associate athletics director at Minnesota from 2001 to 2005 under then-AD Joel Maturi. Coyle is from Waterloo, Iowa, and is a graduate of Drake University from which he holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in teaching. He also holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Florida State University.

Jeremiah Carter, senior associate athletic director for name, image, likeness (NIL) policy and risk management

Carter has been a member of the U of M athletics compliance staff since 2013. Previously, he spent six years with the National Collegiate Athletic Association in various roles. As a student athlete on the U of M football team, he earned All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten Honors. He graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in sports management. 

UMRA is lucky to have such knowledgeable speakers on such timely topics. Please make your reservation today and join us at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, for UMRA’s annual meeting and luncheon forum at the Campus Club.

—Bill Donohue, UMRA Program Committee

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