2007 Sun Belt Standards

Adopted in May of 2007 and modified in August of 2007 the Wyatt Committee set forth standards and expectations for Sun Belt members.

New Orleans - The Sun Belt Conference announced today that comprehensive performance standards are being implemented for all sports with emphasis on men’s and women’s basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball and women’s soccer.  The standards were unanimously approved by the Sun Belt’s 13 member institutions at the conference’s May 2007 meetings.  Only minor technical additions were needed, and everything has now been finalized.

 

The primary goal is to help conference schools compete at the highest level in NCAA play while also increasing retention and graduation rates.  The intent is also to ensure the continuing improvement of both academic and athletic successes for Sun Belt Conference student-athletes and teams along with enhancing the overall experience for each school’s fans and alumni.  All Sun Belt schools will be expected within a three-year period to achieve minimum expectations in the areas of athletic performance, APR, scheduling, recruiting, attendance, staffing and ticket sales.  The increased standards result from a year-long study conducted by a committee appointed by Dr. Sidney McPhee, Sun Belt Conference president.

 

QUOTES FROM SUN BELT CONFERENCE COMMISSIONER AND CEOs

 

Wright Waters – Commissioner, Sun Belt Conference

“It is a testament to the commitment of our chief executive officers that this initiative passed by a 13-0 vote.  The Sun Belt Conference and our current member schools have a proud tradition of achievement on the field and in the class room.  However, in today’s constantly changing and evolving landscape of collegiate athletics, everyone agrees we must continue to set high standards and not be satisfied with the status quo.  This puts all of us in a greater position for continued success and indicates the leadership at our schools has tremendous vision.”

 

Dr. Robert D. Coombe – Chancellor, Denver

"The standards set by the CEO Initiative are within reach for all Sun Belt Conference institutions. At DU, we look for the boost in competitiveness to benefit our basketball programs in particular."

 

Dr. Joel Anderson – Chancellor, UALR

"This is an important step to help elevate our conference to greater national prominence."

 

Robert L. Potts – Chancellor, Arkansas State

"We at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro commend the Wyatt Committee for the hard work that resulted in this aspirational report.  We are proud to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference and to join our colleagues at other conference institutions in a collective effort to raise the level of academic and athletic performance within our league."

 

Frank T. Brogan – President, Florida Atlantic University

"This report clearly shows that this initiative is off to a very carefully planned start.  By following a step-by-step approach within the guidelines that are set out in the report, Sun Belt member schools will be able to strengthen their individual athletic programs while simultaneously increasing the Conference's overall competitiveness."

 

Dr. James E. Cofer – President, Louisiana-Monroe

“I congratulate the committee for its outstanding work toward setting a course for our conference to take its rightful place alongside the elite in NCAA Division I. This report outlines the goals we must achieve to be competitive as a conference in NCAA Division I. The member schools of the Sun Belt make up an outstanding league and together we can raise the perceptions of others by following the course set forth in this report.”

 

Dr. Sidney McPhee – President, Middle Tennessee

“My thinking in organizing this very important group was to appoint persons to examine the status of the Sun Belt Conference's five core sports -  football,  men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball -  in order to better position our programs among Division I conferences. We asked our committee members to be bold in their evaluations and suggestions as to how we can best advance the Sun Belt Conference in the core sports areas and strategically move our conference forward.  I am extremely pleased with the recommendation of the committee, and I believe this report will help propel our league nationally. Furthermore, it helps us remain focused on our respective campuses as to what our league is supposed to do for our student-athletes, as well as our institutions.  Once we have fully implemented our three-year plan, I believe the Wyatt Committee’s recommendation will help enable the Sun Belt Conference to be among the elite conferences in America.”

 

Dr. Gretchen Bataille – President, North Texas

I served on the Wyatt Committee and am very pleased by the cooperative spirit that led to these recommendations to strengthen all the athletic programs at Sun Belt schools.  The members reviewed the practices in other conferences, looked at our own numbers, and determined to find goals that would emphasize the importance of both academic and athletic successes.  I believe that the Wyatt Report sets out realistic goals for our institutions to improve our athletic programs. 

 

Gordon Moulton – President, South Alabama

"This initiative will further the cause of the student-athlete and hopefully encourage better graduation rates and improved classroom performance, while at the same time improving the quality of athletic programs."  

 

Dr. Jack Hawkins – Chancellor, Troy

"Troy University is proud to be a part of this visionary process that will make an outstanding conference even more successful. The recommendations in the Wyatt Committee report chart a bold new course for Sun Belt Conference membership and provide a plan of action that will benefit our athletic programs in the years ahead."

 

Dr. Gary Ransdell – President, Western Kentucky University

"This is a major step forward for our league.  High performance standards for our member institutions are essential if the Sun Belt is to achieve the national success to which we aspire.  These expectations, and the implications for nonperformance, send the message that the Sun Belt is a league destined for high academic and athletic achievement."

 

BACKGROUND

At the conference’s annual spring meetings in 2006, all schools and the conference office agreed to thoroughly examine men’s basketball with the goal of changing the culture and being more competitive in the NCAA Tournament.  Following a gradual improvement in RPI from 20 in 2001 to 12 in 2005, the Sun Belt Conference dropped to 18 in 2006 and 20 in 2007.  Recruiting, scheduling, staffing, television, ticket sales and revenue distribution were all studied to determine where improvement is necessary. 

 

In October 2006, Sun Belt Conference President Sidney McPhee appointed a special committee of Sun Belt Conference Chief Executive Officers to examine the status of Sun Belt Football and Basketball and recommend changes that could be made to enhance the conference’s position among IA peer institutions.  Women’s basketball, baseball, women’s soccer, softball and volleyball were also added and components of successful division one programs were identified.  The committee was chaired by Les Wyatt, President, Arkansas State University System and was identified as the Wyatt Committee.  Its other members include Gretchen Bataille, President, University of North Texas; Frank Brogan, President, Florida Atlantic University; Jack Hawkins, President, Troy University; Gordon Moulton, President, University of South Alabama; Gary Ransdell, President, Western Kentucky University; Chris Massaro, Athletic Director, Middle Tennessee State University.  The committee also met in person with Roy Kramer, retired Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference; and CM Newton, retired athletic director at The University of Kentucky.

 

 

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER POSITION

During the May 2007 annual conference meetings, the chief executive officers met to review the research and consider the recommendations of the Wyatt Committee.

 

The group accepted the conclusions of the report and further concluded that the role of intercollegiate athletics had such a vital role on each campus that constant monitoring was required to insure the mission of each institution and the initiatives of the conference. The group further recognized that intercollegiate athletics is not just a competitive or a financial issue on each campus but has significant social benefits and values.

 

THE SUN BELT CONFERENCE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER INITIATIVES

(Adopted unanimously May 2007)

 

Football

1.     Schools will play a minimum of 11 home games over a two-year period.

2.     Schools may schedule not more than two games annually that do not include a return game provision at the institutions home field.

3.     Schools may not play more than one I-AA opponent each year and that must be at home.

4.     Schools must increase “average home attendance” annually until the school reaches 75% of the stadium capacity.

5.     Schools must increase “season ticket” sales annually until the school reaches 25% of the stadium capacity.

6.     The Conference Office will produce a weekly “Game of The Week” beginning in mid-September 2007.

7.     The Conference Office shall secure a minimum of two guaranteed berths in post season bowl games.

 

Men’s and Women’s Basketball

1.     Schools must play 50% of all non-conference games at home or neutral sites.

2.     Schools may not play more than two games annually against opponents who do not return the game to the home facility.

3.     Schools must play all games against Division I opponents; exceptions for a game played at home may be granted by the conference office. Note: Contracts dated prior to May 31, 2007, will be honored.

4.     Schools will increase average attendance in Men’s and Women’s Basketball annually up to 50% of men’s seating capacity and 25% of women’s seating capacity.

5.     Schools will increase season ticket sales up to 25% of men’s seating capacity and 15% of the women’s seating capacity.

6.     The Conference Office will produce an annual post-season tournament that is both financially rewarding to the membership and has a positive impact on recruiting.

 

Baseball

1.     Schools are expected to increase average attendance annually up to 50% of the stadium capacity.

2.     The Conference Office will produce an annual post-season tournament that is both financially rewarding to the membership and has a positive impact on recruiting.

3.     The Conference Office will produce a weekly “Game of The Week” beginning in April 2009 and concluding with the conference tournament.

 

Membership Standards

1.     Member institutions are expected to sponsor a minimum of fifteen (15) sports in which the conference offers a championship. There shall be a five-year (2012-2013) grace period for UNO and Denver to reach this standard.

2.     Institutions considering candidates for head coaching positions in core sports shall insure that there is a diverse pool of candidates considered for the position.

3.     Any future members must sponsor IA football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball or women’s soccer.

4.     Schools will meet the NCAA minimum acceptable score of 925 as measured by the APR in all sports.

5.     Schools will insure that sufficient summer school aid is available to the core sports, to insure that student-athletes meet the 925 APR standard.

6.     Revenue Distribution from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be formulated to incentive institutions that are competing in the tournament.

 

FUTURE MONITORING.

The Goal of the Conference is for all institutions to become nationally competitive in the core sports of Football, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Softball and Baseball. For institutions not offering one of the core sports it is anticipated that they shall become nationally competitive in Women’s Soccer or Volleyball.

 

  1. The Conference Office shall prepare an Annual Report which shall be distributed to the Chief Executive Officers and Athletic Directors on the status of the components described in this report.
  2. As this is an attempt for the conference to become competitive; core sport teams not ranked in the top half of the league at least once in a three-year period shall be required to complete a report prepared by the institutional athletic director to the chief executive officers and athletic directors detailing corrective actions initiated, the report will be circulated no later than the annual spring meeting. The report will include recommendations from the conference office.  This stipulation is meant to help schools raise their success rate, not as a means for criticism or rebuke.