Impacting the Future of College Sports 

Issues and Solutions Update — December 2022

Edition No. 6

LEAD1 representatives explain their proposal for new FBS governance at the Knight Commission December 5 public meeting.

Knight Commission Challenges University Presidents to Act on Transformational Reform of Division I Sports

At its Dec. 5 meeting, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics called on university presidents leading the NCAA Division I Board of Directors to act more urgently on transformational reforms” it charged a special committee to design more than a year ago.


The Commission heard from representatives of the NCAA Division I Transformation Committee in a private session and received a public presentation from LEAD1, the association of Athletic Directors for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools, about their respective efforts to transform and modernize Division I sports.


The Commission overall has been disappointed by both the pace, direction, and scope of the NCAA’s reform efforts as well as the ongoing failure of university presidents and commissioners who lead the College Football Playoff (CFP) organization to adopt critical reforms.


United Soccer launches a new coach credentialing program for soccer coaches in all three NCAA divisions.

Knight Commission Supports New United Soccer Coaches Credential

The Knight Commission commends United Soccer Coaches for launching a Coach Credentialing Program for NCAA coaches. The Knight Commission is pleased to invest in United Soccer Coaches’ efforts to launch a comprehensive collegiate coach credentialing program. We have long championed the need for a credential that recognizes the important role of coaches as educators.

Last month, United Soccer Coaches announced its first class of 60 coaches, 40 head coaches and 20 assistant coaches, who will complete 60 hours of curriculum and graduate in July 2023. 

The Knight Commission invested in this program with a grant to provide United Soccer Coaches scholarships for racial minorities and women to participate and to conduct a program evaluation. 

Register in advance to attend in person or virtually.


Coffee and pastries will be provided.



January 12, 2023 8:30-9:30 a.m. CT

Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 205

“The Multi-Billion Dollar Question:

How Should New CFP and D-I Revenues Be Used?”

Knight Commission members Eric Barron, president emeritus, Penn State University; Jacques McClendon, director of football affairs, Los Angeles Rams; and Amy Privette Perko, CEO, Knight Commission, will present in this session.


“While some aspects of the LEAD1 proposal could improve FBS governance, the proposal fails to address the elephant of FBS reform, the role of the CFP and its soaring revenues.”



“ADs and college presidents treat the CFP as a piggybank with unlimited Monopoly funny money–which is why it’s so important to completely overhaul the self-serving governance and financial model of the CFP before it expands.”



Knight Commission in the News:

Data and Solutions for Excessive Coaching Buyouts

CLICK HERE to view Knight-Newhouse Data and Research on the Uptick in Football Coaching Buyouts

Listen to the interview here.

"'Dead Money' in College Football is at an All Time High," All Things Considered, Dec. 7, 2022

Washington Post sportswriter Liz Clarke comments on the prevalence of "dead money" in college football and cites the Knight Commission and Knight-Newhouse Data to explain the uptick as universities spend millions on coaching severance pay.

Read the full article here.

"Colleges are more willing than ever to pay football coaches not to coach," Oct. 7, 2022

The Washington Post featured solutions the Knight Commission has proposed for excessive coaching buyouts. Knight Commission Co-Chair Len Elmore and Commission member Jonathan Mariner, former CFP of Major League Baseball, were interviewed:

With input from Mariner, the (Knight Commission) in 2021 proposed a new financial model for college sports that would include a system of disincentives, crafted and policed by individual conferences, that would penalize member schools for excessive coaching compensation and buyouts.

The model is akin to baseball’s luxury tax.

Mariner explains: “In baseball, we put in place a luxury tax that basically says, ‘You can spend as much as you want. But the more you spend, the more it’s going to cost you in terms of other incentives and disincentives."

Read the full article here.

"Explaining the trend of college football coaches fired midseason," Oct. 31, 2022 also featured the Knight Commission’s solution in an interview with Co-Chair Len Elmore:

"The CFP has done some wonderful things, but since 2015, buyouts for college football coaches alone have tripled. And so it seems to be that agents and ADs have upped the ante because there's more money available. It's like they're playing with Monopoly money. They're forgetting about the context in which this money should be looked at and spent."

Last year, the Knight Commission proposed a solution that involves conferences instituting new financial frameworks that could implement penalties on schools and teams for excessive coaching buyouts and compensation.

Read the full article here.

"FBS coach buyouts continue to be absurd, but can anything be done? A breakdown of where that stands," Dec. 13, 2022

“…Those (14) schools paid more than $150 million in buyouts for Power 5 head coaches not to work over the past season and a half…The numbers are staggering, and the way the sport is currently set up, there’s not much incentive to change that…So what can be done? Anything?...

The Knight Commission believes there’s at least a way to add some incentive for athletic directors to not spend so liberally. Want to overspend on contracts? You’re gonna pay the luxury tax… If the luxury tax model were to be enforced by each conference, it wouldn’t violate anti-trust laws.”


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