How Joe Moglia will reform college sports: Former NCAA coach/CEO, coach contracts, and more

When Joe Moglia looks at the state of college sports, he gets strokes about the lack of leadership.

“I have a lot of respect for what the NCAA did, but if that was the business world, the whole board would be fired,” he said. “The entire executive management team will be fired.”

The former CEO of TD Ameritrade and former Coastal Carolina head coach has a wealth of experience in both areas and continues to work in both to this day, including as Coastal Carolina’s head of athletics. Muglia’s background is unlike anyone else in college athletics. He spent 16 years coaching, then 17 years at Merrill Lynch and eight years at TD Ameritrade, before returning to coaching in Nebraska. As head coach, Coastal turned Carolina into a successful program and upgraded it from FCS to FBS, setting a record 56-22 in six seasons and choosing Jamey Chadwell as his successor. He is now President of Coastal Carolina Athletics and Executive Director of Football.

College sports isn’t exactly the world of business, given its history with amateurs, but it’s heading in that direction as the money increases.

At a time when everyone has an opinion about where college sports should go next and its future has never been so uncertain, Muglia says its leaders first need to understand these issues again. The combination of a one-time free transfer rule, a new name, image and likeness laws, and fear of lawsuits in the wake of last summer’s Supreme Court ruling has created a situation where no one seems to be in control.

Muglia spoke to a group of athletic directors about these issues at last month’s Collegiate Sports Summit in Dallas, organized by the Lead1 Association and the Institute for Sports Leadership. He has given other speeches and consulted with advertisements on where things stand. In an hour-long interview with the athlete Last week, Muglia laid out his ground-up plan to transform college sports, and it begins with the recognition that college sports is a business.

“If there was ever a time when college sports had to act just like a real business and run like a business with a sense of urgency, now is the time,” he said. “I sit in meetings and see great ideas, but don’t feel the urgency.”

Muglia says the change has to be drastic, and it’s not just zero-sum rules. From contracts to new leadership to the FBS structure, he has a lot of ideas.

“If we are going to do something,” he said, “we have to get it done now.” “The faster college sports are about that, the better I am. If college sports were to wait for the NCAA, it’s unbelievable to me, when they let that happen.”

Responsible Executive Committee

Forget the various boards and subcommittees and the slow legislative process. Muglia will create an Executive Committee with semi-autonomous decision-making power. Like a business, a group can consist of anyone whose membership they decide, and who can vote for them. But they will have the strength.

“It should have the skill sets for whatever you might be looking for, but the business sense and courage to do what they really think is right for all college sports,” he said. “They are the bosses. That is. They set the rules as objectively as possible.”

The NCAA as an organization consists simply of schools. It is not a third party group. The committees are made up of sporting directors and chiefs. NCAA President Mark Emmert, who will step down next year, has little actual real power, but much of Muglia’s frustration with collegiate athletics stems from Emmert’s absence of leadership and direction over the past year — not to mention his NCAA board grants. The contract is extended midway through April 2021.

“The face of the biggest leadership shortfall in college sports history is getting an extension,” Moglia said. “A year later, he’s no longer in there. Now he’s a lame duck. … I think limits are on immoral. Whoever put this contract together, I understand Emmert is taking advantage of what they gave him, but that’s a terrible executive decision. his work.”

Cancellation of the signature period

This is not a new concept. Coaches like Paul Johnson and Rich Rodriguez have advocated for years to eliminate signing day and allow players to sign anytime, perhaps after a certain date like the start of their first year. The idea is to force schools to be upfront with players about committable “offers”, and players really commit to the school. The idea of ​​Muglia is the 48-hour period to sign after an offer has been made.

“The school and the child sign the document and that’s done. He can’t be recruited, that’s it.” “To make it stable, part of the scholarship is you have to stay here for at least a year,” Muglia said. Those two things, 48 ​​hours to sign and a commitment to school for at least a year.”

At what point does the system simply assign athletes to contract employees? Muglia believes that administrative discussions on the matter miss the larger issue. Employment (and possibly collective bargaining) comes next.

“This is dealing with terms, with semantics, and nomenclature. To me, that is irrelevant.” Get the structure and foundation right, and build on top of that. Should they be employees or students? I love the idea of ​​student-athletes, but at the moment a good student-athlete is auctioned anytime they want, and that’s a silly way for a college or company to operate. Professional sports don’t work that way.”

Reform of the training contract market

In professional sports, coaches seldom voluntarily leave one team to another during a contract. This is because they cannot. They can be traded, as was the case with Jon Gruden before, but when they are hired, they are locked up. College football doesn’t work that way. Each season, coaches leave one school for another. There’s a buy-to-pay for letting it be written early on in those contracts, but new school usually picks up the tab.

Muglia hates it. It’s not how normal business with lateral movement would work. The commitment he wants from the players must also apply to the coach. Muglia is a former coach, but looks at this from the CEO’s perspective.

“(For now), if you have a great year and someone wants you, you can leave next year, and with the gate as it is, all your best players can come with you.” The school you are leaving is destroyed. …if you sign a five-year deal, you’re supposed to stay there for five years and no one can catch you. No one should be allowed to talk to him unless he has six months left or something. If a guy is doing a great job and you want to extend it, the guy has to make a real decision. If he thinks he can get a bigger job, he might be late.”

This will require schools to become more assertive with coaches and their contracts, but Muglia sees schools being run over by agents in the negotiation process – and not just for successful coaches.

“Even if the future was in doubt, the agent encouraged them to extend the contract due to conscription,” he said. “This is nonsense.”

Reorganize FBS

This idea is the most complex and controversial, and one that Muglia doesn’t even like as someone who works in a group 5 school. But from a business perspective, it makes more sense to him. He believes that Power 5 conferences should band together into television contracts for more leverage. That includes the Big Ten taking a short extension of its existing contracts to sync with other leagues.

In fact, that won’t happen, and he knows it. But like ending signature day, it’s not a new idea. Media consultants have made the same point for years, that a smaller group of major college football brands will bring more TV money to those schools (and possibly save money for TV partners in general).

Muglia also believes that what is essentially the Premier League will make business sense, further dividing FBS.

“You look at 65 schools in Power 5, pick half or so of them, and then break out of Group 1 and Group 2,” he said. “I’m not saying you should do this, but if you’re running it as a business, you should think about all of these things. Let’s not believe we’re worried about FCS. Power 5 is running all of this.”


Moglia did not go back to college football to make money. He could have stayed on Wall Street. He sees value in the college athletics endeavor beyond just business.

“I think influencing others is one of the most important things a person can do for someone else,” he said. “When I coached the first time, I knew I had a positive impact, and it gave me tremendous relief. When I resigned as CEO… I didn’t think I could do anything more meaningful than helping young boys become men In the truest sense of that word. For me, college sports has always been where the foundation is laid in defining the future.”

But there is a commercial side to it, and player compensation after management and coaching salaries have exploded, bolstering this trend. Notre Dame’s athletic director Jack Swarbrick told Sports Illustrated that a possible breakup for the Division I or FBS could occur in the mid-1930s. That’s when the SEC and ACC’s media rights deals expire, making it a possible time for a major change.

Everyone in college sports is looking for some kind of leadership at the top right now. Maybe that comes with a shift committee or a new NCAA president. Whatever it is, Muglia says she can’t wait.

“I have my feelings that none of this is going to happen,” he said, “but as a businessman, I can see why it’s happening.” “So you have to get involved and have a hand as a leader, or you step aside and let someone else take over.”

(Photo: Lance King/Getty Images)

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