Reshaping College Sports

The NCAA Constitution Committee is billed as a panel that will reshape college sports, and Tulane University Athletics Director Troy Dannen made no secret of his desire to be part of it.

photo of Troy Dannen in the Athletics training room
Athletics Director Troy Dannen is serving on the NCAA Constitution Committee, which is recommending sweeping changes to college sports. (Photo by Rusty Costanza)

“I made my interest known,” said Dannen, who as a member of two other NCAA committees, including serving as chairman of the NCAA Football Competition Committee, is a familiar face among the NCAA hierarchy.

In August 2021, Dannen was one of four athletics directors named to the committee by the NCAA Board of Governors, along with 19 other college presidents, conference commissioners and student-athletes. The committee is being led by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, also a former president of Texas A&M.

The goal of the committee, according to the board, is to “propose dramatic changes to the NCAA constitution to reimagine aspects of college sports so the Association can more effectively meet the needs of current and future college athletes.”

“The last time there was a constitution committee was in the 1980s,” Dannen said. “It’s a rare committee and, in some ways, it’s about as substantive as you’ll ever have in terms of involvement at the NCAA level. It’s reimagining and reinventing the entire intercollegiate athletic enterprise.”

Topics expected to be addressed include regulation of the laws that now allow athletes to earn money from use of their “name, image and likeness” and the NCAA v Alston case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that NCAA restrictions on the amount schools pay for education-related expenses of student-athletes violated antitrust laws.

Other issues include budget inequities between small and large schools and a possible new governance model that would enable small universities and those without football programs to operate successfully. “Right now, we’re all under the same governance umbrella,” Dannen said.

He began meeting with the committee in September, and a vote on the committee’s recommendations by the Board of Governors is expected in January.

“I’m not at the table to solely rep–resent the interests of Tulane, but rather the greater interests of intercollegiate athletics as a whole. That said, I’m proud Tulane has a voice in how athletics will best function within higher education for years to come.”