What’s an example of an even you’re proud of that many people might not know about?
Our Division II festivals, which is going to be in Pittsburgh, is an awesome event where folks get a chance to go in and get an Olympic feel, if you will. You’re in a community for a week and get to check out four or five or six different championships. Our student-athletes really love that experience. That really drives a lot of interest and economic impact, as well.
Sounds great. Could that ever work on the Division I level?
It’s too big. What you will see more of are combined championships—like we did with men’s basketball in Atlanta a few years ago—where we bring all three divisions together. We’ve done that with field hockey and lacrosse. Women’s basketball has done that, too. Trying to get the dates and schedules aligned is a lot tougher on the D-1 level.
Everyone is talking about esports—where does the NCAA stand on gaming?
I would not say we are wait-and-see. We’re exploratory in the space. We’re trying to be a resource for members and some institutions go down this road. It’s operating under student services or other groups now—none really coming through athletic departments. Athletic departments are now asking us: Wow would scholarships be counted? What venues hold the competitions? And what it’s mean for amateurism if these kids are playing and receiving money? We are looking at the landscape and saying this is what it needs to look like if we had a championship and what are the benefits and barriers.
Back to new host destinations, Las Vegas is the final frontier for NCAA championships. What’s the future hold there?
It’s not if, but when. Las Vegas provides a lot of great venues and opportunities for our championships. We have member conferences already having great experiences there and there are a number of in-season competitions there in wrestling, baseball, basketball and men’s and women’s ice hockey are going to have some events there. I anticipate our membership will have some voice legislatively that would allow for that and then we’ll move in. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before—that’s for sure.