Proposals for Health, Diversity in Division I Football

May 2, 2017

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has “challenged” the governing board of the College Football Playoff to better address issues of health, safety and diversity.

The commission -- now co-chaired by former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Carol Cartwright, president emerita of Kent State University -- has released recommendations for the College Football Playoff, which governs the championship of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Largely, the recommendations revolve around how the playoff group should spend its revenue.

Duncan said Monday that the playoff should devote a “meaningful” chunk of its revenue to research on concussions, a common sports injury. Such work is currently funded largely by money generated by the NCAA’s Division I men's basketball tournament.

“I always say budgets aren’t just number on a piece of paper -- budgets always reflect our values,” Duncan said. “The distribution of revenue reflects what we choose to value in college sports. And we’re always going to push to make sure we get those values right.”

One penny for every dollar the CFP takes in should be spent on diversity programs, Duncan said. If such a system had been implemented last year, the CFP would have devoted $4.3 million to college diversity programs. Though 50 percent of Division I football players are black, only about 10 percent of coaches are, Duncan said.

The Knight Commission has also suggested that performance bonuses for participation in the postseason tournament be channeled elsewhere. Instead of spending an average of $4.8 million in bonuses for each institution that participates in the CFP, the financial incentives for academic performance should be boosted until both payouts are equal, the commission said.

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