The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council will start a College Sports Sustainability Think Tank to examine sustainable programming initiatives. The measure comes amid emerging vulnerabilities facing varsity-level Olympic and Paralympic sports as college athletic departments have cut sports because of financial constraints stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group will explore sport-specific regulatory adjustments, new revenue options, cost saving mechanisms, sport sponsorship incentives and partnership opportunitites. The think tank will be chaired by Scott Stricklin, University of Florida athletic director, with initial meetings scheduled for the fall.
“This think tank will be a first-of-its-kind collaboration across the USOPC, National Governing Bodies, collegiate leaders and Team USA athletes,” said Sarah Hirshland, USOPC chief executive officer. “College sports are invaluable for our athletes’ personal and athletic development, and we are grateful for the continued support of the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council for pioneering this effort with us.”
The meeting also included an update on alignment efforts to formalize engagement among collegiate, national governing body and USOPC leaders to ensure the relationship between college athletics and Team USA remains strong.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many Olympic and Paralympic sport vulnerabilities at the college level,” said Kevin White, USOPC board member, USOPC CAC chair and Duke University vice president and director of athletics. “Simply put, it is critically important to be creative within this new landscape in order to preserve the collegiate athletics tradition of broad-based programming.”
The USOPC CAC was also updated on efforts to support Team USA athletes hoping to train on college campuses this fall. The USOPC collegiate partnerships team is partnering with interested schools to help athletes displaced by COVID-19 identify training opportunities at alternative schools to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.“We need to reimagine the college sports framework and consider sport-specific nuances to help sustain our Olympic sports on campus,” said Stricklin. “Now is the time for new and uncharted levels of partnership and collaboration across collegiate and Olympic and Paralympic stakeholders, and we are ready to get to work.”