Regents establish athletics subcommittee

New oversight group aims to stress importance of intercollegiate sports at Boulder, Colorado Springs campuses

UPDATE: November 19, 2010

The University of Colorado Board of Regents on Friday, Nov. 19, voted to establish a new athletics subcommittee, an entity that's been absent from the board since 2003.

Regents Jim Geddes, Joe Neguse, Monisha Merchant and Tom Lucero – who joined to make a formal request for establishment of the committee – all voted yes, along with Regent Michael Carrigan. Regents "Tillie" Bishop, Steve Bosley and Stephen Ludwig voted against the proposal. Regent Chair Kyle Hybl did not vote.

"We're sending a message ... that the Board of Regents values athletics and football to the point that they want to be as supportive as possible," said Lucero, R-Loveland.

The meeting was held on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. The vote carried despite direction from the Boulder and Colorado Springs chancellors that such committee work could be integrated into the board's two existing committees, Academic Affairs and Budget. Chancellor Phil DiStefano of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak of UCCS also pointed out that an athletics committee will only pertain to two of the system's four campuses – a departure from the four-campus responsibilities of the other two committees.

But in its request, the participating regents stressed athletics as "a critical component of the current student experience, prospective student recruitment, donor relations, successful alumni outreach and engagement and external affairs," thus justifying the need for more formal oversight responsibilities.

"There is a perception, perhaps unfair, that the University of Colorado at Boulder doesn't have the same commitment to athletics as a University of Georgia, a USC (and others)," said Geddes, R-Sedalia. "I can't think of a better way of turning that perception around than (this new committee)."

The new committee will consist of three regents, at least one of whom will be from the minority party. It will meet at least three times per academic year.

Before 2003, the board had a standing committee on intercollegiate athletics. Standing committees, which did not take votes, were incorporated into study sessions for the board in August 2003. In 2006, the study sessions became part of the board's two remaining committees; the board currently receives an annual report on intercollegiate athletics.

Bosley, R-Broomfield, began the day's discussion by moving that action on the item be postponed until the board's January retreat in order to gather more information. But after the chancellors indicated they had no further details to report, he withdrew his motion.

Ludwig, D-Lone Tree, said he was against the idea of adding more work and bureaucracy for board members and support staff.

"I am not sure our culture should be shifted to one that's more dominated by athletics than it already is," Ludwig said. "We have limited time and resources as regents."

Carrigan proposed an amendment, which was accepted, that the athletics committee only be in place until June 30, 2012, unless the Board of Regents again votes to continue it, thus ensuring a trial period.

In other business at the board's meeting, which began Thursday, Nov. 18, and concluded Friday, Nov. 19:

  • Rico Munn, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, told the regents that their help is needed in selling Coloradans on the need for greater, sustained funding of higher education in the state.

    "CU is our flagship, but we need you to be a voice for those statewide priorities," Munn told the board during a report on the recently announced Higher Education Strategic Planning (HESP) report. The report recommends that education leaders and lawmakers pursue any number of combinations of tax measures to boost state funding of higher education up to two or three times current levels. Voters could be asked to approve such measures in November 2011.

    "We have goals broader than the goals of any single institution," Munn said.

  • The board heard a report on online education efforts throughout the system. Online enrollment at UC-Denver has grown steadily over its 14-year existence.
  • The board voted to approve a new doctorate in telecommunications degree at CU-Boulder. It also heard proposals for two new degrees: master of criminal justice at UCCS and doctor of rehabilitation science at the Anschutz Medical Campus.
  • CU Guaranteed, a new directive guaranteeing admission to CU for qualifying community college transfer students, received unanimous approval from the board.