UGA’s Jere Morehead playing lead role in NCAA change

Members of the Georgia Athletic Association's board of directors, including UGA President Jere Morehead (sipping coffee) and Athletic Director Josh Brooks (sitting to his right) listen to Bulldogs men's basketball coach Mike White (far left) make a presentation during the spring meeting on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Ritz Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga. (Photo by Chip Towers/ctowers@ajc.com(

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Members of the Georgia Athletic Association's board of directors, including UGA President Jere Morehead (sipping coffee) and Athletic Director Josh Brooks (sitting to his right) listen to Bulldogs men's basketball coach Mike White (far left) make a presentation during the spring meeting on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at the Ritz Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga. (Photo by Chip Towers/ctowers@ajc.com(

ATHENS – It was an eventful day on the shores of Lake Oconee on Thursday. In addition to the actions initiated by the Georgia Athletic Association board of directors at its end-of-year meeting, there was much discussion about the many new challenges facing college athletics.

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UGA President Jere Morehead has had a front-row seat for the seemingly endless waves of change. In addition to being the chairman of the Bulldogs’ athletic board, he also is the sitting president of the SEC. In 2020, Morehead was named to the NCAA’s Board of Governors -- the NCAA’s highest authority -- and sits on Division I′s board of directors. He recently was appointed to the NCAA’s “constitution committee,” which is charged with coming up with a new constitution for college athletics’ troubled governing body, and also is one of 21 members Division I′s “transformation committee.”

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May 13, 2022 Athens - Jere Morehead, president of the University of Georgia, speaks during the 2022 Spring Undergraduate Commencement at Sanford Stadium in Athens on on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

May 13, 2022 Athens - Jere Morehead, president of the University of Georgia, speaks during the 2022 Spring Undergraduate Commencement at Sanford Stadium in Athens on on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
May 13, 2022 Athens - Jere Morehead, president of the University of Georgia, speaks during the 2022 Spring Undergraduate Commencement at Sanford Stadium in Athens on on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Therefore, when it comes to the issues the issues facing modern college athletics, Morehead’s opinions are weighty and well-informed.

Not long after Day 1 of UGA’s two-day board meeting concluded Thursday, Morehead was asked to share some of his thoughts on some of the pressing issues. Such as:

The impact of name, image and likeness (NIL) on college athletics ...

“Well, I think NIL has evolved in a way that was not intended. It was intended to reward student-athletes for their name, image and likeness as student-athletes enrolled at college institutions. It’s clearly become something different than what it was intended. I believe we’ve got to have some very clear rules that do not lead to the professionalism of college athletics.

“You probably saw the action that the Division I Board of Directors took a few weeks ago at the NCAA. That was a strong statement by the board that we want the enforcement staff to enforce the rules that exist related to recruitment. And we don’t expect NIL to be used as a recruitment device. I believe in the long term that we’re going to have to have a more formalized process, whether that comes from Congress or can come from the actions of the NCAA. We clearly need a strong framework that governs the conduct that every institution engages in when it comes to NIL. How we get there, and when we get there, is an open question. But right now I hope the enforcement staff feels like they’ve been give a green light by the Division I Board of Directors to investigate some of the cases that have gained a lot of national attention.”

How NIL should work ...

“It’s supposed to be about making sure that the student-athletes can freely engage in their name, image and likeness, as student-athletes on college campuses. It’s gone beyond what that framework was expected to be. And I think we have to make sure that guardrails do exist, that it doesn’t become a situation where student-athletes are making choices based upon the highest bidder in choosing colleges. So, I think some work’s got to be done there. I think some work’s got to be done with the transfer portal. We’ve got, again, a great leader, co-chair of our Division I transformation committee, Greg Sankey, along with Julie Cromer, the athletic director at Ohio University. They’re leading our Division I transformation committee every Tuesday afternoon through important discussion of all these issues. And I’m hopeful that we can ultimately come up with a series of rules that will effectively govern us in a collegiate model.”

The effects of the NCAA’s transfer portal …

“The portal has gotten a little beyond what was anticipated. You remember the transfer rules were relaxed to make it easier to transfer, but now student-athletes are jumping in and out of the portal in a way that’s creating a lot of instability for teams and their team rosters, and that’s not really good for the sports that they are a part of. So, I think again we need a reasonable framework to govern the transfer portal. And I’m hopeful that we can get to that point. Certainly, Commissioner Sankey and Julie Cromer’s committees are working on those issues, and getting a lot of feedback from student-athletes, and coaches and athletic directors, and other conference commissioners. So, hopefully we can reach a good outcome in the coming months.”

SEC football scheduling after expansion …

“I think everything is being discussed. We’re going to have a joint presidents/AD meeting during the Destin meeting. But I’m not at a point of predicting what outcomes will occur at this stage. The athletic directors have been in much more discussion about this, so part of this is for the presidents to have a discussion with the athletic directors to see where they are.”