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Making a Positive Impact with NCAA Restructuring
Aug. 15, 2014

By Brad Muller | More Features

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors on Thursday, August 7, voted to restructure how schools and conferences will govern themselves, and South Carolina isn't wasting any time in looking out for the interests of the student-athletes under this new model. Former Gamecock offensive lineman Fran Person, who has served as personal aide and grew into a senior advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, was hired by the Athletics Department as a special advisor to serve as a point of contact for the welfare of student-athletes.

"The main focus will be on the new governance restructuring for the NCAA and the impact it can have at the University of South Carolina," Person said. "As a former student-athlete, I get it. Back in 2005, I thought I had it good. To come back now, nearly a decade later, it is breathtaking to see the commitment the university has already made to the well-being of our student athletes, both on the field and in the classroom."

The new model allows for student-athletes to have a voice in key areas of decision making, while helping institutions to better support those student-athletes. It also allows flexibility for schools in the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 to change rules for themselves in a list of specific areas such as insurance benefits for student-athletes, health and wellness, meals and nutrition, cost-of-attendance stipends, staff sizes, recruiting rules, mandatory hours spent on individual sports, and academic support.

"We are among the best prepared schools in the country in this new governance structure of the NCAA."

Fran Person

Athletics Director Ray Tanner noted that Person's focus will be student-athlete welfare.

"This is a transitional period for college athletics," Tanner said. "To have Fran on board - a former Carolina student-athlete who has been involved with several educational initiatives during his time in Washington - to help us navigate through this time is a tremendous bonus. His connections on a national level, in addition to his experience, expertise, time and efforts will be invaluable in ensuring the welfare of our student-athletes."

Person is quick to praise Tanner and university President Harris Pastides, who was among the voting members on the NCAA board, for doing so much to prepare student-athletes to succeed athletically, academically and professionally.

"We are out in front when it comes to the well-being of our student-athletes," Person said. "It starts from the top with President Pastides and Ray Tanner, along with some off the greatest coaches in all of college sports. I am excited about the opportunities because we are among the best prepared schools in the country in this new governance structure of the NCAA, and we want to be the model for everyone else. Whether it's facilities, or support off the field from athletic trainers and nutritionists, or the life skills and academics staff, we're not only committed to graduating our student-athletes, but also preparing them for professional careers after college. That's what it's all about."

Tanner agrees that the Athletics Department is already in good shape when it comes to meeting the needs of student-athletes, on and off the field, and the new governing model will only help improve that support.

Fran Person in Iraq

"Bringing in someone to specifically focus on the new structure of governance puts us on the cutting edge of college athletics programs," Tanner said. "While fans may not notice any differences under this new structure, I'm confident our student-athletes will benefit from these changes."

Person will have opportunities to meet with all of South Carolina's student-athletes and has already met with the Gamecock football team. The Philadelphia native played for four years under Coach Lou Holtz and played his final year for Coach Steve Spurrier during his first year at the helm of the Gamecocks in 2005. After double-majoring in political science and international studies, with a minor in business administration, Person secured a job with then-Senator Biden in 2006, moving into his role at the White House a couple of years later.

While it was hard to leave a job he enjoyed in the nation's capital, Person was excited to bring his wife, Krystal, and two children to South Carolina, and he's confident his experience will have an impact on his alma mater.

"The NCAA is at a crossroads, and we're set up to win," Person said. "I have absolute confidence that with the support and resources in place, South Carolina won't only excel, but lead in this new autonomy."

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