The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council announced it would lead a USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tank to examine sustainable, broad-based college sports programming initiatives. The think tank will focus on vulneranbilities facing varsity-level Olympic and Paralympic sports and ideate remedies to ensure lasting opportunities for such sports participation in the future.

“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.” 

Together the group will explore sport-specific regulatory adjustments, new revenue options, cost saving mechanisms, sport sponsorship incentives and partnershipopportunitites across conference and/or national-level programming.

“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.”

Chaired by Scott Stricklin, University of Florida athletic director, the think tank members will be assembled and hold initial meetings this fall.

“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.”

The USOPC CAC also discussed the Olympians Made Here and Paralympians Made Here campaigns, which will launch Tuesday, Oct. 13 for its second season across athlete, school, conference, NCAA, National Governing Body and Team USA channels. The campaign will feature athlete voices and facilitate storytelling across a variety of college and Olympic and Paralympic channels to drive awareness of the value of collegiate sport.

“Like many of my peers, I am proud of my collegiate experience and eager to help strengthen the collegiate sports ecosystem for future generations,” said Jamie Redman, USRowing Athletes' Advisory Council representative, USOPC CAC liaison and chair of the USOPC’s Collegiate Athlete Thought Leader group. “Our collegiate athlete group spent the summer examining options to use our voices as part of the collegiate solidarity campaigns. Together, we’ve helped build a new platform to allow athletes to bring national attention to the importance of the college sports system.”

Additionally, the USOPC CAC was updated on efforts to support the 558 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 new training opportunities at alternative schools to continue to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The meeting also included an update on alignment efforts to formalize engagement among collegiate, NGB and USOPC leaders to ensure the symbiotic relationship between college athletics and Team USA remains strong. The council discussed early drafts of charter elements to memorialize the composition of the USOPC CAC and expectations for collegiate leadership service.

About the USOPC CAC
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Collegiate Advisory Council was formed in October 2017 and is chaired by USOPC board member Kevin White (Duke University). The 10-member council is charged with increasing collaboration with NCAA member institutions and conferences to elevate national engagement and support of Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities on campus. The council is comprised of:

  • Sandy Barbour, Pennsylvania State University vice president of intercollegiate athletics
  • Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference commissioner 
  • Greg Byrne, University of Alabama athletics director
  • Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina director of athletics
  • Bernard Muir, Stanford University athletic director
  • Rob Mullens, University of Oregon athletic director
  • Chris Plonsky, University of Texas executive sr. associate athletics director/chief of staff 
  • Gene Smith, The Ohio State University senior vice president and athletic director
  • Scott Stricklin, University of Florida athletic director
  • Kevin White, Duke University vice president and athletic director