Baylor President on the Changing World of College Athletics


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired March 17, 2022

With the thrill of March Madness in full swing, the dotEDU hosts are focusing their policy talk on all things sports. Linda Livingstone, president of basketball powerhouse Baylor University, joins the podcast to break down how the NCAA is working to change with the times, its recent shift on issues such as name, image and likeness (NIL), and how the recently adopted NCAA constitution will affect student-athletes moving forward. Jon, Sarah, and Mushtaq also discuss  how institutions are helping Ukrainian students studying in the U.S., as well as the FY 2022 appropriations bill recently signed by President Biden and what that means for higher ed.

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

Biden Administration Extends Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians in the U.S.   

Biden Signs Major Spending Bill That Includes $400 Increase for Pell Grants

Open Academic Inquiry and Vigorous Debate Are Core Values of Higher Education, Organizations Write

In Higher Education, New Educational Gag Orders Would Exert Unprecedented Control Over Teaching
PEN America (Feb. 1, 2022)

PEN America Index of Educational Gag Orders

NCAA adopts interim name, image and likeness policy

NCAA members approve new constitution

President Livingstone’s Congressional Testimony: “A Level Playing Field: College Athletes’ Rights to Their Name, Image, and Likeness”
House Committee on Energy and Commerce

President Livingstone’s Written Testimony (PDF)

Hosts and Guests

 Read this episode's transcript

Jonathan Fansmith: Hello, and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education policy podcast from the American Council in Education. And a little bit later will be joined by Dr. Linda Livingstone, president of Baylor University, and also the vice chair of AC's board of directors, as well as a number of other positions, including vice chair at the Big 12 Conference board of directors and on the NCAA's Division I board of director... I could probably go on and on. She's very accomplished. She's going to talk with us about college athletics, and I think that will be a really great conversation. People will learn a lot from that. But before we do that, I'm joined remotely by two of my favorite people in the world and two people I got to see in-person together for the first time in, I don't know when, years, I think, years at ACE's annual meeting just a week or so ago. So, Mushtaq Gunja, Sarah Spreitzer, in some ways, sad to be seeing you guys remotely again after some in-person contact, but always good to see you both.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yes, but soon, we will all be back in the office, John. The ACE offices are reopening this week.

Mushtaq Gunja: I think Sarah's taller than I remember her being because when I saw her in-person, she looked, I mean, really-

Sarah Spreitzer: It's the heels.

Mushtaq Gunja: ... stately.

Sarah Spreitzer: I haven't worn heels in a long time.

Jonathan Fansmith: She also has that intimidating presence. She just seems bigger.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah.

Mushtaq Gunja: Well, and authoritative, right? Because she can speak on many, many topics with a lot of authority, including what is happening in Ukraine. Right, Sarah? I feel like you're tracking this probably more closely than anybody else at ACE. So, what is happening with our Ukrainian students?

Sarah Spreitzer: Well, I mean, I don't think I can speak authoritatively on the situation in Ukraine, but at least I can say that higher ed is looking to support Ukrainian students and scholars both here in the United States and those who may be being displaced by the current crisis going on right now. Mushtaq, we have around, I think it's around 1,700 Ukrainian students in the United States. Not that many when you consider we have over a million international students overall, but obviously, a very important issue for institutions. We've been hearing from a lot of institutions about how best to support those students that may be here. And we sent a letter to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security asking for flexibility for those students who may see be seeing their programs of study ending soon, but unable to return to Ukraine because of what's going on.

And thankfully, the White House actually acted, or Department of Homeland Security, acted very quickly and granted temporary protected status to those Ukrainians that were in the United States before March 1st, which means for the next 18 months they can remain in the United States. And for many of them, they can actually work if they have to. And so, it's really important, it's really great to see. Our institutions, especially during COVID really stepped up to support our international students and I have no doubt that they will do the same for Ukrainian students, especially depending on what's going to play out in the next couple months.

So, Congress is actually acting quick also to provide some support for Ukraine and they included some money for humanitarian and military aid, John, in the recently passed omnibus, which also had a lot of stuff in there for higher ed.

Jonathan Fansmith: Yeah. I love when you say Congress acted quickly, I mean, it took them about four weeks to get the aid done, and that's-

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. The Ukraine part was quick. The rest of the omnibus was not as quick.

Jonathan Fansmith: Right. And again, we're talking quick by Congress' standards. It took them several weeks to agree to do a thing they'd all agreed they wanted to do. Yeah, no, the omnibus passed last week as we record this. Just about a week ago it was introduced. We finally saw the details. The Ukraine aid was a big happy part of that. I think everybody was really happy to see that. It's both humanitarian and some additional military systems, about 14 billion worth. But this was all of federal funding. This is a process that's way overdue at this point. This is probably the latest in the year I've ever seen them do this in, I don't know, maybe 15 years or so. Sorry, I don't know if you can remember another time it went later than mid-March before they finalized everything. But that was strange.

I think, probably more importantly from the higher ed perspective, there was a lot of expectations about what we'd see this year for the fiscal '22 year funding bills because the president had proposed very significant increases, a 41% increase in overall funding at the Department of Education. Huge amounts of non-defense spending. House Democrats had passed appropriations bills that echoed those levels that had really large increases, not just to Pell grants, but to things like work study and supplemental educational opportunity grants and NIH funding. I mean, across the board big increases.

So, there was a lot of hope that we might see those numbers, and I think particularly with the current political narrative, which is that Republicans are likely to retake the house, if not the House in the Senate, in the coming elections, this was also the time to set the baseline. The term we use here, where the levels are controls the conversation going forward. Setting those baselines as high as possible before what would likely be probably a couple years of much tighter funding levels. We didn't get that. We got increases. Some of those increases were healthy. NIH funding, Sarah I know you track this, was about two and a half billion above previous years levels.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, it was, but half of that was going to the new ARPA-H so it really was about a billion dollar increase for the other institutes at NIH.

Jonathan Fansmith: And Pell grants got a $400 increase. That's probably the largest increase in about a year... or sorry, in about 10 years. But we also started this budget cycle, like I said, with an expectation you might see in the neighborhood of $2,000 for Pell. So, $400 is great. By any mean in a normal year, you'd say that's great, but given where we thought we were, it's a bit of a disappointment.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, and also, I mean, just given the fact that Build Back Better Act is still out there and had had money for some of our priorities. I've been tracking the COMPETES Act and the US Innovation and Competition Act, which authorized huge increases for some of the federal research agencies, including the National Science Foundation. But then when you see the appropriations, we're grateful for the increase and the fact that the omnibus got done, but they're just not as large as what Congress is trying to reach for in the authorization levels.

Jonathan Fansmith: Yeah. And some of this we should have expected. Right? I mean, part of it was, there were huge increases for non-defense and very modest increases for defense. That was likely never going to stand up. And it's not just Republicans. Democrats want to vote for a strong defense bill, and with the situation Ukraine being what it is, that added extra urgency to plusing up defense. If you plus up defense, generally, what that means is if you're getting a parity, those non-defense numbers are going to come down. It's a smaller pool to divide. So, in some ways, this was an outcome you could see coming, but I think, again and again, there was evidence to the contrary, hope that we might see bigger levels and that hasn't happened. As you said, Build Back Better is out there, but it's way out there at this moment. There's no real path forward and no real proposal as to what that will look like. So, not clear where we go from here on some of those big ticket items that we had been hopeful of beginning the year.

Mushtaq Gunja: Yeah. Democrats have a hand to play, and I'm not sure if they played it well, but it was going to be difficult in a 50/50 Senate and with a House majority of just a handful to be able to do the enormous things they wanted to do. They had incredibly high ambitions. They didn't get all of it. They didn't get most of it. I'm with you, John. I feel like this is an outcome that I think we probably could have seen coming. I don't know if this was the modal outcome, but it sort of feels like it was, that this was the most likely place where we were going to end up. Just took a long, long, long, long time.

Jonathan Fansmith: Well, and Mushtaq, I think it's important as we think about how long this process has taken at the federal level, that there's a lot of things happening very quickly at the state level, that states are the laboratories of democracy and all that, but a few things particularly recently that have popped on our radar as not just state level issues, but the kind of things we're seeing across the country. And I know you're tracking a lot of these very closely. I thought you could touch on some of them for our listeners.

Mushtaq Gunja: Yeah. And things are moving so quickly, John, that it's actually to keep track of it all, but this week we saw movement in Florida on issues related to some accreditation related to the legislature or some state bodies reviewing individual faculty syllabi to make sure that they didn't have too much critical race theory work in there. They wanted syllabi weeks in advance of teaching, which having put together a syllabi, I mean, I know that I don't put my syllabi together that far in advance, I mean, for fear of missing late breaking information and new news stories. So, we had talked a couple of months ago about some of these divisive concept pieces that are happening in states and we certainly have not seen that trend slow down. If anything, we've seen it accelerate. I think for all of our listeners in your various states, make sure that you spend some time reading the news and keeping track of what is happening because these bills and these proposals are moving incredibly quickly.

Jonathan Fansmith: And we will post a link to a couple different resources that highlights... I know Penn-America has a pretty comprehensive research on state level legislation being introduced around divisive concepts and free expression. And we'll put some things related to that in the show notes.

Mushtaq Gunja: Yeah. You should definitely do that while you are also filling out your March Madness brackets because it is March Madness week. And I wasn't listening to what Sarah was saying because I was just filling out my women's bracket where I have Baylor winning it all. And I think we're probably going to hear a little bit more about that, Sarah, when we talk to Linda Livingstone in just a couple minutes.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yes. Go Bears.

Jonathan Fansmith: Yeah. I mean, you kind of have to say that, don't you, Mushtaq? We're coming back shortly with the president of Baylor, so it's a smart political choice. I knew we had the right guy on as a co-host with that. But as Mushtaq says, we're going to be right back after the break with Dr. Linda Livingstone and for what will, I think, be a very illuminating conversation around college athletics.

Mushtaq Gunja: And we're back and we are joined today by a very special guest, Linda Livingstone, as the 15th president of Baylor University. Baylor has grown tremendously over the course of Linda's tenure under a new academic strategic plan, among other things. I think that plan emphasized research and resulted in Baylor just a couple months ago receiving R1 status. I asked Linda the other day what the secret is to her having so much energy because Linda, in addition to running Baylor, is also doing just a tremendous amount of community service, including serving as vice chair of ACE. And Linda, I can't remember what your answer was, but I feel like it's not quite transferable to me, even though I really want it to be. And germane to this conversation, Linda serves as vice chair of the Big 12 conference and serves on the NCAA board of governors. And if I remember correctly, Linda, you played college ball at Oklahoma State. Is that right?

Linda Livingstone: That's correct. You're good, Mushtaq.

Mushtaq Gunja: And your husband did, too, is that right?

Linda Livingstone: Yes, he did. Yeah. And our daughter played volleyball at Rice. We've got a athletic family, or one that used to be athletic. Maybe less so now than it used to be.

Mushtaq Gunja: So, Linda, what happens when Baylor plays Oklahoma State? I mean, who do you root for? I mean, I know you've got to wear green, but are you secretly rooting for the Cowboys?

Linda Livingstone: Oh, absolutely not. I love Oklahoma State. We cheer for them all the time, unless they're playing Baylor. But absolutely always cheering for Baylor when Baylor's playing. And our friends at OSU know that and understand that. It's a fun rivalry and we always enjoy those games because we know so many people at OSU and still have great friends there.

Mushtaq Gunja: And these days you're beating up on them quite a bit, especially in college ball on the men's and women's side. True?

Linda Livingstone: Well, we've had a good run athletically over the last few years, and can't say enough about our leadership there with our athletic director, Mack Rhoades and the coaches that we have. So, it's been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work on everyone's part to be where we are athletically.

Jonathan Fansmith: I like Mushtaq starting off with the hard questions to really get in there and force you into awkward answers.

Linda Livingstone: That's right. That's right.

Sarah Spreitzer: Well, president Livingstone, as the resident expert of all college sports here on this podcast, which I say that sarcastically... Although, I do know that Baylor's mascot is the bears. So, go Bears.

Linda Livingstone: Very good. Good job, Sarah.

Sarah Spreitzer: I was going to ask you, since you serve on the NCAA board, can you talk a bit about what the NCAA does, why we have the NCAA? I'm hopeful that our boss, Terry Hartle, doesn't actually listen to this podcast and find out that I know such little knowledge about college sports. But we're in March, it's March Madness, so it's a good time to have an NCAA 101.

Linda Livingstone: I'm happy to do that. And certainly, March Madness is one of the most exciting times in college sports, so it focuses a lot of attention around the country, really around the world, on what's going on in college sports. But the NCAA has been around since the early 1900s, and it was really developed initially around safety issues. It was when football was fairly new and there were lots of deaths and injuries. And so, there was a sense that there had to be somebody that helped protect the student athletes and set some rules. And it wasn't until, really, the early 1920s they started doing national championships. The first men's national championship sponsored by the NCAA wasn't until 1939. And then the first women's national championship after Title IX wasn't until 1981. There were other organizations that ran the women's national championships.

And so, it's really evolved a lot through the years. And certainly national championships are one of the key roles of the NCAA today, but over time, it evolved into also how do we ensure fairness of play? And so, you have recruiting rules, you have academic standards. But as an organization ages and grows and you get layers and layers of bureaucracy that get added. As you know, we've been through this major transformation with the new constitution and everything because it's time to revisit who the NCAA is, what we do, what's the role in college athletics, and where do college athletics sit nationally, and what do they need to look like going forward in a very different environment than, certainly, there was in the early 1900s, or even 10 or 15 years ago.

Sarah Spreitzer: And it must have grown a lot. Right? I mean, college sports has become so big in the last couple decades, and so from the 1900s, have you seen that? Has it become much bigger?

Linda Livingstone: Oh, absolutely. And certainly, a part of that is... I mean, Title IX was huge in the early '70s because all of a sudden, half of the population was now going to have opportunities to engage in collegiate athletics in a way they never had before. And so, you've seen a dramatic increase in the number of women participating, the quality of athletics. As Mushtaq said, I played basketball in the late '70s and early '80s and the quality of women's basketball today is dramatically better because of the investment institutions have made around the country.

And then, the other thing that's really dramatically changed college athletics is the influx of media resources and money into it. We know college football, college basketball are huge revenue sources for institutions, but huge media markets in terms of what our country wants to watch. And so, that influx of resources has really changed the face of college athletic and is really requiring us to rethink in some ways how we support college athletics, how we support our student athletes, and what role the NCAA plays in that, as well as what we have to be doing on our college campuses.

Jonathan Fansmith: And Linda, one of the things that's come up in a couple of your answers already is this moment of change for the NCAA for lots of factors, but you touched on this very briefly and I'd like to maybe get you to go into a little more depth. The NCAA has a new constitution, and in part, that's designed to give a lot of flexibility. You've been very involved with that. Can you talk a little bit about that process, what the goals are, and where that stands now?

Linda Livingstone: Right. Yes. We approved a new constitution at the convention in January and I served on the constitution commission that had been working, really, the previous, probably, nine months to a year on that. And there were a number of motivations for were that. It had become clear that there were issues in how the infractions process worked. You have layers and layers upon rules that have developed the 110 or 20 year life of the NCAA. Some legal cases, the Austin case that had to do with educational benefits change. What we do with name, image, and likeness had really changed, and now there were opportunities for student athletes. It just became clear that we were going to have to really rethink the role of the NCAA and what was done at a national level versus what's done and delegated down to divisions or conferences or schools.

And so, the new constitution continues to focus on the primacy of the academic enterprise and the primacy of academics for student athletes. They are students first and then athletes, and we want to make sure that is maintained. There's a lot of emphasis in the new constitution on a diversity, equity, inclusion across a wide variety of categories including, of course, gender equity continuing to be important. Obviously continuing to support championships. And then student athlete wellbeing which had become a bigger portion of what the NCAA had been focusing on, but it's really articulated very specifically in the new constitution as we look at how do we ensure that we're provide a healthy, safe environment for our student athletes, both physically, but also from a mental health perspective.

And then, also, how do we simplify what we're doing? I mean, the rule book in the NCAA, if you print it out, it's like this big. Right? So, how do we simplify and how do we delegate to the divisions... There's three divisions: Divisions I, II, and III. And then letting the divisions determine some of their path forward. Many of the really significant issues we've seen in court cases and in other situations have really focused on Division I, so what in Division II and III need to do versus what does Division I need to do? And so, that's where we're in that process now. The divisions are now taking the new constitution, looking at their own structures and systems and processes and saying, "What are the next steps that we need to be focusing on to ensure the health of college athletics for the future?" Because it is something that our country loves and we want to make sure it continues in the right way going forward.

Jonathan Fansmith: Well, and allow me to ask some followup questions, too, because I'll say, unlike Sarah, Mushtaq and I follow college sports pretty closely, and I will be honest, I am also hoping Terry isn't listening because I would like you to explain NIL to me and to the listeners. Because as closely as I follow college sports, as much, actually, attention as I pay to that issue, I am utterly confused about what the new rules mean, what that means for institutions. I mean, particularly for an institution like Baylor where athletics are a strong part of the campus culture, how does that work? And what does the thinking look like? Just anything you can do to help me, I would greatly appreciate.

Linda Livingstone: Yeah. Well, you are not the only one confused by what's going on in NIL right now. It's a very-

Jonathan Fansmith: That's reassuring.

Linda Livingstone: Yeah. It's very complex and it's very decentralized. So, what's happened with name, image, and likeness, this is the concept that student athletes can earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness, and that had been banned previously as not appropriate. And their sense was that's not really fair because other students, if they do a song and post it, then they can sell that and earn money from it, but a student athlete couldn't. And that just wasn't appropriate. So, that has been loosened up. But what's happened is we do not have national rules around name, image, and likeness, so states have started making their own rules around name, image, and likeness. And there, at one point, were about 30 states that had what we call NIL legislation that articulated what you could and couldn't do as a student athlete around your name, image, and likeness and what rules there were for schools and so on. So, that left another 20 states that didn't have rules, and we're even beginning to see some of the states that had rules change those rules or get rid of them.

And so, basically, you have a patchwork of NIL rules across the country. That's unbelievably confusing for student athletes, for schools, particularly when you've got student athletes that are in one state and going to school in another state and you're playing across states. And so, we have really articulated both at the universities and with the NCAA that it would be extremely helpful to have some federal guidance and legislation that provides a common platform for how NIL should work across the country. Because, in some ways, you're talking about activities that take place across states, and the federal government does regulate activities that take place across states.

And so, we've had lots of conversations about that, and what we're seeing is because there's such a patchwork, what one school's doing versus another school is completely different. We do still believe at the NCAA that student athletes should not be paid for their athletic performance, that there are educational than they can get, obviously scholarships and other things, that they should legitimately be able to earn NIL for their name, image, and likeness, but to just pay them because they go to X school or Y school and they play basketball or football or run track, really is not in keeping with the spirit of what's intended with NIL. And so, because we've got such disparity across states and some states with no laws at all, it's just a really challenging environment right now and confusing for our student athletes, hard for our athletic staff and coaches to navigate, and something that we've got to figure out how to bring some reasonable guidelines around going forward. And certainly, we're looking at that at the NCAA, but we also continue to work with legislators in Washington on what might be appropriate guidelines and parameters around that.

So, I don't know, John, if that helps provide any clarity, but it's not real clear right now, so it's not surprising that you had that question.

Jonathan Fansmith: Honestly knowing it's not clear is actually pretty helpful. I think Sarah had a question, too. But it just, I was reading an article, and I apologize for the details alluding me, but it was about a couple different institutions that had signed NIL deal for the team and then they divided the proceeds of that up. And that there was a lot of concern because, essentially, this starts to cross the line you're talking about with are you being paid to be an athlete rather than benefiting from the brand you have established as an athlete?

And I think just, to a certain extent, shows the complexity of some of these decisions, and in particular, I like that you brought up federal legislation. Obviously, that's what we do here at ACE, so always something I'm interested in, but given the volume of legislative proposals Congress introduced around name, image, and likeness in terms of student athletes' perspective, it's been interesting how quiet Congress has been since the transition about proposals to actually address the problems. And now that this is going [inaudible 00:25:37]. So, that's more commentary by me. Sorry. I know Sarah, you had a question [crosstalk 00:25:41].

Linda Livingstone: No, you're absolutely right, and it's not that we've got to continue to work on. And I think there's a huge education piece involved in this because it is not something that the average person understands necessarily other than what they're reading in the press. And so, we recognize that an important role we have, and I know ACE's so valuable in this on so many different issues, educating our congressional leaders and representatives on the pros and cons, what's happening, and how do we maintain the integrity of college sports while allowing students to have legitimate NIL opportunities tied to the value of their name, image, and likenes.s And so, it's something we've got to continue to work on and make progress on. And we know there's folks in Washington that want to work on this and there's a variety of proposals there, so we're going to keep doing that while we're working within the NCAA on what can we do to help bring some clarity even in the context of not having federal legislation right now.

Sarah Spreitzer: So, I was going to recommend, John, you should read President Livingstone's testimony before the House energy and Commerce Committee last year, because I read it last night, it was great in explaining the NIL issue, why it's problematic that states are coming up with their own solutions, and how to address this. And I also really appreciated the discussion in your testimony about the importance of student in student athletes. And so, it's really helpful and maybe we can post that in our show notes for folks to look at. But that was back in September, so do have these proposals, are you seeing any movement on the federal legislation? Is the issue getting better? Are more states introducing things? Is it getting easier now that it's been out there for a while?

Linda Livingstone: I think now that it's been out there for a while, it's actually gotten more complicated in some ways, as opposed to easier. And we haven't seen a lot of movement in Congress, and I think, frankly, the closer we get to the election... And we probably see this on a lot of issues, the closer you get to the election, it becomes more challenging sometimes to get legislation moved through, particularly when it's got to be bipartisan, to get it moved through through both houses and then signed off by the president.

And I think the reason it's become more complicated is because the guidance is so different by state and there's no consistency and there's really no oversight from a national level, whether that's from the NCAA or in some other way, what you're seeing is each is school kind of figuring out what their own path is forward within the parameters within their state. And again, some states, what we're seeing actually more than more states adding laws, we're actually seeing some states taking away the laws they had to just make it an open book on what you can do. And so, then you start to see universities... what you're seeing, not the university setting them up, but alumni and friends of university setting up these collectives, and you give money to the collective and then the collective distributes that money to the student athletes based on their name, image, and likeness.

And this goes to John's comment earlier. I think that's where you're seeing where they might be giving $50,000 to every offensive lineman on a football team out of the collective, which may or may not perception-wise be tied directly to the actual value of that particular player's name, image, and likeness. And so, you're seeing a lot of one-off approaches or unique to the school. So, I think it's going to become more and more complicated as opposed to less complicated until we can get some reasonable guidelines around it at a national level.

And I would say the other thing I would argue, or say, that is I think complicated it some, the NCAA has also changed the transfer rules in college athletics. Used to, if you transferred, you had to sit out a year before you could compete. In some sports, they didn't require that. Other sports, particularly the major sports like football, men's and women's basketball. And so, in the last year, those requirements have loosened up, so a student athlete can transfer now one time without having to sit out, regardless of what sport they're in. There's a transfer portal. Put your name in the transfer portal, once you're in the transfer portal, schools can re-recruit you to go to their school.

And so, this intersection of very open transfer portal and open rules with NIL together has caused a lot of concern that some schools are buying players out of the portal and they're bidding for players out of the portal with NIL, whether that's being done by these collectives or in other ways. So, there's also some intersection of other things that probably have been good for student athletes to give them more flexibility, more choice, but when you lay some of these changes across and put them together, it complicates the situation a lot more. Just NIL, just the transfer portal flexibility, you might not see some of these issues, but when you put them together, it becomes pretty complicated.

Mushtaq Gunja: So, how have you seen it play out at Baylor, Linda? So, in the last year, have you seen it in influx of NIL questions. Issues that your student athletes have been facing?

Linda Livingstone: Yeah. We put together, because we knew this was coming, and so we put together a whole plan and a whole program to educate our student athletes around NIL, and we have an advisory group that has lawyers, accountants, and entrepreneurs and business people on it that helped us build out this program. Schools are not supposed to actually pay student athletes for NIL and we're not supposed to actually set up NIL deals for student athletes. And Texas, actually, has a pretty good law, so the law in Texas is actually a pretty good model for others. But we do know we have to educate these student athletes so they know what they can do, what they can't do, what kind of advice and insight they need to get. I mean, we're talking about young people, they're 18, 19, 20 years old, and people offering to pay them for their name, image, and likeness and trying to help them be smart about it so they protect themselves... Because these are business deals for really young, in experienced individuals, and so you want to make sure that they're protected.

So, we've really done a ton of education around it. We do keep track of all of their NIL deals so we know. So, we've got a wide array of student athletes taking advantage of this. Some fairly large deals. Most of them are pretty modest and reasonable. A lot of social media kinds of things. Ours is pretty well-distributed across our men's and women's teams and athletes. I would say the men's deals are probably on average larger than the women's deals, but we've got a great women's basketball team, a great volleyball team. We've got some track athletes that are among the best in the country.

Linda Livingstone: So, I think we're trying to make sure they're educated, that they are smart about what they do, that they ensure that they have the right people advising them in their circle, so that they're protected as much as anything. Because you do worry a little bit about whether there's folks out there that might be taking advantage of some of these student athletes. And what kind of deals are they signing? How long are these deals? Are they truly giving them the right value for their name, image, and likeness?

Mushtaq Gunja: Linda, I'm glad that you brought up track because I think so much of our discussion in this country about college athletics is about college football, men's and women's college basketball, and we forget about the, I don't know how many other sports Baylor has, but the other 27, probably, varsity teams that Baylor has. One of the things I read sometimes in the press are some sorts of proposals to carve out the revenue sports, college football and the two college basketballs, from the rest of the NCAA sports. I'm sure that the NCAA has been thinking about this, has decided against it. I wondered if you might talk a little bit about how the NCAA has been approaching this question about the different types of sports and the different revenue models that accompany those sports.

Linda Livingstone: No, you're absolutely right. I mean, there're really generally at institutions two or three sports that generate actual revenue above the cost of those sports. Obviously football, men's basketball, in some cases women's basketball. There might be a few places where baseball might, but it's rare. And many of the issues that we face and many of the questions that are asked relate to those three sports, and in fact, the Austin case that allowed additional educational benefits really only applies to those three sports: football, men's and women's basketball.

So, I'm on the Division I transformation committee and on that committee, we're looking at these issues of what does it take to be a member of Division I? How should we be thinking about benefits for student athletes? Of course, how do we think about health and wellbeing of our student athletes? Looking at rules transformation, looking at simplifying the infractions process. But part of that is thinking about what do you delegate to conferences? What do you delegate to schools? But also, right now we think of all the sports the same, we have a lot of rules that apply across all sports. There's certainly particularly playing rules that are specific to the sports. But are there certain things that we should maybe be delegating to sports and let sports address some of these issues independently?

I think one of the things you have to be thoughtful about as you do that, and we have not made any decisions on how we might think about delegation to different sports, you always have to... We pay a lot of attention to all the antitrust guidance that's out there that has to do with benefits and even some of the NIL kinds of issues, but you also then also have to take into consideration Title IX, where we have to really think about are we providing equity to our men's and women's sports? As you think about how you might consider those revenue sports uniquely, you also have to think about the implications that might have for Title IX, because there are not as many women's revenue sports as there are men, or not as many participants in those sports.

And so, it's a complicated puzzle where you're trying to figure out how the pieces should be put together going forward, maybe different than they have in the past, knowing that you have federal guidance related to antitrust we have to be concerned about, federal guidance related to Title IX we have to be concerned about, and at the end of the day, we still want these young people to graduate, get degrees, and focus on their academics while ensuring that they're having the opportunity to be the best they can be as a student athlete. So, I think we really want to look at all the options that are out there and try to come to terms with what's in the best interest of healthy college athletics, but also a healthy collegiate experience for our student athletes going forward.

Sarah Spreitzer: And I'm so happy that you touched on Title IX and the equity issue because even though I don't follow college sports closely, I remember I think it was maybe the March Madness right around COVID when it happened, there were some viral pictures of a women's locker room compared to the men's locker room during the basketball playoffs. And so, I'm curious, I know that this is on your mind, what are the steps that you are taking as a president to address equity and parity in sports? And then what are the steps the NCAA is thinking about?

Linda Livingstone: Well, certainly at Baylor, we pay a lot of attention to this and we actually have a timeline consultant that we bring in regularly to look at what we're doing to make sure that we're providing equity between our men's and women's sports in terms of participation, as well as in terms of equality of the experience that they're having. And I think we do a good job of that. I mean, one of the things... We're building a new basketball arena and people think, "Well, that's just about men's and women's basketball," and it is to some extent, but what it does is it frees up our existing gymnasium, the Ferrell Center, for volleyball and acrobatics and tumbling, which are women's sports on our campus, who now are sharing the gym with men's and women's basketball. And so, it will be, really, a game changer for those two sports to have their own venue that they have really much fuller access to.

So, we're really continuing to look at not just how we help those revenue sports, but how what we're doing for them can actually benefit our other sports.We're building a new football operations building which will give our football players a wonderful facility, but it also frees up a lot more space in weight rooms and offices, and I think non-revenue sports, many of which are women's sports. So, we're continually looking at how we make sure that we're supporting our women's sports in ways that help them to be successful and to be treated fairly and equitably compared to our men.

At the NCAA level, obviously, it's a huge issue last year, the NCAA brought in an outside consulting firm that did a report on... particularly focused on men's women's basketball championship, but they've done some more work outside of that, as well. And the NCAA's make dramatic changes between last year and this year with regard to women's basketball, particularly, but championships. For instance, something very visible, they're both being branded as March Madness now. You'll see that in all of the women's branding around the basketball [players 00:40:14] that did not used to be the case. They expanded women's bracket to 68 teams, because it had only been 64. The men's has been 68 for a considerable period of time. Men's and women's officials are now being paid the same across [inaudible 00:40:31] those officials calling the women's games compared to the men's games, the pay is equitable now. And as well as branding at the locations, per diems, there's a long list of... And, so there's been a huge multimillion dollar investment in that.

You've also seen expansion in some of the other women's championships in terms of numbers of teams, branding, and other things. So, it was something that the NCAA took very seriously and continues to work on, and it's something we get regular reports on at the board level. I chair the finance committee of the board, so we review it regularly because of the investment it's requiring to do that. But I think people will see a significant differences as this championship unfolds, and certainly something got to continue to pay attention to at both our schools and at the NCAA level, that we're supporting our women as we should, comparable to what we do for our men.

Jonathan Fansmith: Well, Linda, let me thank you, first of all, for coming on, taking this much time with us, when... And I don't know if we've mentioned this, but Baylor has a number one seed men's team and a number two seed women's team heading into the tournament. So, obviously, your time right now is even more, I think, in demand than it usually is. So, thank you so much for coming on, personally, for helping me understand NILs a little bit better, and certainly, I think, helping our listeners get a better sense of where college athletics is in this moment, where it's going. So, again, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Linda Livingstone: Oh, I'm happy to do it. And I'm hoping you guys have Baylor at the top of your brackets [crosstalk 00:42:05].

Jonathan Fansmith: Of course.

Linda Livingstone: ... basketball. I'm sure you do. No, it's a pleasure-

Jonathan Fansmith: I will tell you, though, you don't want me putting them number one because whoever I pick inevitably will come in [inaudible 00:42:12] drop out in the second round or something.

Linda Livingstone: Well, definitely don't do that, then, if it's going to cause us problems along the way. But I was happy to be here. These are complicated issues, but really important ones for our student athletes and for our universities broadly. So, happy to be helpful if I can to help folks understand what we're dealing with.

Jonathan Fansmith: Tremendously helpful. And thanks, everyone.

Sarah Spreitzer: As always, podcast friends, you can check out earlier episodes and subscribe to dotEDU on Apple, Google Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. For show notes and links to the resources mentioned in the episode, you can go to our website at And while there, please take a short survey to let us know how we're doing. You can also email us at to give us suggestions on upcoming shows and guests. And a very big thank you to th​e producers who helped pull this podcast together: Laurie Arnston, Audrey Hamilton, Malcolm Moore, Anthony Truehart, Hisani Stenson, and Fatma NGom. They do an incredible job making this happen and making Jon, Mushtaq, and I sound as good as possible. And finally, thank you so much for listening.

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​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major public policy issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast at the dotEDU page.

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