The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and NCAA today announced the signing of a strengthened Olympic and Paralympic Sport Cooperation Agreement, intended to pilot new collaborative efforts between the two organizations through 2024.
The new agreement terms are rooted in the USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tank recommendations and provide a foundation for the NCAA and USOPC liaison duties outlined in the NCAA Constitution. The agreement outlines tactics intended to test joint support of Olympic sport management, pilot Paralympic sport growth strategies and collaborate on shared promotion of Olympic and Paralympic sports at the college level.
“We are grateful to the NCAA and its member institutions for their commitment to Olympic and Paralympic sport programming and willingness to increase collaboration,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “Our collegiate sports system is an American treasure worth protecting, and we are honored to partner with the NCAA to activate shared sustainability efforts to preserve broad-based sport opportunities on campus through this cooperation agreement.”
Activation of the agreement will be monitored by the NCAA Division I Council and the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council. It includes efforts to measure the impact of the USOPC Think Tank recommendations through 2024. The agreement has three areas of focus:
- Olympic sport management pilots: The agreement includes operational deliverables for sport strengthening efforts, which includes pilot efforts to increase sport efficiencies, test championship-related partnerships and elevate the student-athlete experience. The pilot will launch by engaging the gymnastics community, including NCAA committee members, school leaders sponsoring the sport, coaches, athletes and national governing body staff.
- Paralympic project: The agreement also includes efforts to launch the USOPC Para-College Inclusion Project to grow adaptive sport opportunities at the college level in collaboration with the NCAA Office of Inclusion through shared research, elevated school engagement and joint promotional programming. This project involves strategy discussions with various adaptive programs at the college level (e.g., wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, integrated track and field), which could result in improved sport awareness, increased school alignment and sport infrastructure strengthen.
- Joint promotion: The agreement expands upon existing promotional efforts to establish a quadrennial plan for communications across both USOPC and NCAA platforms to emphasize and amplify the value of Olympic and Paralympic sport opportunities at the college level. The agreement includes various media milestones and a timeline for formalizing the 2.0 scope for Olympians and Paralympians Made Here campaign.
“While the collegiate landscape is evolving, NCAA member schools are committed to offering broad-based Olympic sport opportunities at the college level,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert. “The new constitutional charge and our USOPC agreement terms demonstrate the collective commitment to strengthen the sport pathway for current and future student-athletes.”
The tactical work prescribed in the cooperation agreement is intended to keep Olympic and Paralympic sport programs strong at the college level, with the understanding that collaboration should be explored and tested before reductions are considered or implemented. Partnerships and alignment across the collegiate and Olympic and Paralympic landscapes are vital to creating operational efficiencies, leveraging untapped revenues and building a unified sport pathway.
The USOPC and NCAA cooperation agreement will aid in the activation of USOPC Think Tank recommendations, which have already been assigned to various NCAA committees.
- The NCAA DI Student-Athlete Experience Committee has advanced a recommendation into the 2022 NCAA legislative cycle to allow men’s gymnastics programs more recruiting and engagement flexibility and is considering a proposal to streamline recruiting for swimming and diving programs.
- The NCAA DI Strategic Vision and Planning Committee is evaluating a recommendation to create an Olympic sustainability membership category that would provide affiliation flexibility for low-sponsored Olympic sports.
- The NCAA DI Competition Oversight Committee is overseeing the sport management pilots involving NCAA sport committees (e.g., men’s and women’s gymnastics, field hockey, men’s volleyball and track and field).
- There has been broad engagement by various NCAA inclusion committees including the Committee on Women’s Athletics, Minority Opportunities and Interest Committee and Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity. Each committee has reviewed and provided volunteers to contribute to the USOPC Para-College Inclusion Project.
- Periodic progress will be shared with the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council and NCAA DI Council to monitor the impact of each initiative.