Athletic Board packs bigger punch

By Tom Clegg and Jeff Kirik

More muscle was added to the NIU Athletic Board Wednesday in the form of four resolutions passed by the board.

Three of the resolutions take effect as soon as they are added to the board’s policy manual. They cover conference affiliation, budget matters not previously covered by the board and academic affairs of athletes. Since the board does not meet regularly during the summer, these three changes will probably not be made until next fall.

The fourth resolution, which must be approved by the University Council, will increase the board’s representation on search committees for head coaches and athletic administrators.

Wednesday’s passage of the first resolution gives the board power over proposals to join and withdraw from athletic conferences. It also gives the board a voice in the university’s votes for approving new conference members. The proposal passed by a 13-0 vote with two abstentions.

The second resolution requires that the board approve accounts it has not approved in the past. An example of an account which the board has not previously approved is the athletic funds in the NIU Foundation. Among those funds would be money raised through contributions to the NIU Huskies Athletic Association.

The third resolution gives the board the power to set up an ad hoc committee to oversee the academic affairs of athletes. The committee will review existing programs at NIU and make recommendations to the board regarding their impact on athletes’ academic progress. The board hopes to establish this committee as soon as possible next fall.

The fourth resolution, which requires that three board members be included on search committees for head coaches and athletic department administrators, was amended to include one student representative from the board. Interim chairman James Mellard, an English professor, cast a tie-breaking vote to approve the amendment.

On March 29 the board passed a resolution that the firing of a head coach must be approved by the board. This also must be approved by the UC before it takes effect.

The board passed this resolution after Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell fired men’s basketball coach Jim Rosborough on March 8.

Curtis Norton, then the board’s chairman, resigned in protest of O’Dell’s action. Norton and others were upset that a four-year verbal commitment given to Rosborough by an NIU search committee had been broken. NIU President John LaTourette replaced Norton with Mellard as the board’s interim chairman.