Kevin's interview with WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart
WKU’s athletic director is predicting there will be changes coming to the organization that governs collegiate athletics. But Todd Stewart doesn’t think the country’s most powerful conferences will break away from the NCAA and form their own organization, as some have suggested.
Stewart will attend a summit in January called by NCAA President Mark Emmert in response to pressure by big-revenue generating schools who want more say in how the NCAA is run. Some large schools want to increase compensation for collegiate athletes beyond what is currently allowed—something opposed by many smaller schools who say they couldn’t afford it.
Stewart came to the WKU Public Radio studio Wednesday to discuss the upcoming NCAA football summit, the future of college football, and his approach to putting together future WKU football schedules.
WKU Public Radio: WKU has been invited along with all the other Division I football schools to attend a Jan. 16-17 summit in San Diego that coincides with the NCAA’s annual convention. From what you understand so far, what’s going to be discussed?
Todd Stewart: A lot of things are being discussed right now, and I think what President Emmert wanted to do was get everybody in the room and hopefully come out with some form of solidarity. Because you have what people refer to as the “power five” conferences—the SEC, ACC, the Big 10, the PAC 12, and the Big 12—and there are some reforms they would really want to see.
WKU is preparing for the possibility that state funding for higher education could someday be based--in part--on retention rates. WKU Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Brian Meredith says it's an idea being tried in other parts of the nation.
"States across the country are doing that now, looking at funding models that are taking into account graduation rates, success rates, completion rates, and those sorts of things. We're not quite there yet in Kentucky, but that could be a possibility down the road, so we're trying to get ahead of the game."
Meredith says WKU has increased the academic requirements necessary to gain admission to the school, with the incoming freshman class possessing the highest ACT scores and grade point averages of any first-year class at WKU in ten years.
Meredith says it should be easier to retain and graduate students who come to WKU prepared to take on higher education coursework.
The WKU Board of Regents has approved a $37 million bond issue to fund a new international center and Honors College building, as well as the next phase of the ongoing renovation of the Downing University Center.
While the motion passed, three regents voted against the proposal.
Faculty Regent Patty Minter joined Student Regent Keyana Boka and Staff Regent James Kennedy in dissent. Dr. Minter says while she fully supports the WKU Honors College and the school's efforts to grow its international student population, she questions the need to issue bonds and build a brand new facility.
“There were a lot of better ideas that were not explored," said the WKU History Professor. "For example, having a floor in the replacement building for the Gordon Ford College of Business—what a great place that would be. And it would also integrate that group and the international student services into the entire student population, as opposed to segregating them out.”
The WKU men’s basketball team opens its upcoming season on the road in Wichita.
The 2013-14 Hilltopper schedule was released Friday, and WKU begins its quest for a third straight NCAA tournament appearance November 11 at Wichita State.
Other highlights include a December 14 road game against the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals. That’s followed by home games against Southern Mississippi, Murray State, and Ole Miss.
WKU opens Sun Belt Conference play at South Alabama on January 2.
The Hilltoppers won the Sun Belt Conference tournament last season, winning four games in four days. In their NCAA tournament opening round game against #1 seed Kansas, WKU led at the half before losing by seven points.
You can find a link to the entire WKU men’s basketball schedule here.
The WKU women’s basketball team has a trip to Puerto Rico, and contests against Louisville and Vanderbilt to look forward to this upcoming season.
The 2013-14 Lady Hilltoppers’ non-conference schedule was released Monday. Following two exhibition games, the regular season starts November 9 at home against Austin Peay. Other highlights include playing at Vanderbilt and home against Murray State in mid-November.
WKU hosts the Louisville Cardinals November 27, and the team travels to San Juan, Puerto Rico the week before Christmas to play in the 2013 Puerto Rico Classic.
The Lady Hilltoppers are coming off a 22-11 season in Michelle Clark-Heard’s first year as head coach of the program. Last year’s record represents the largest single-season win improvement in Sun Belt Conference history.