Jo Potuto leads the NCAA 1-A Faculty Athletics Representatives Association.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

This is One Lecture Sports Fans Would Enjoy

By NU Athletic Communications

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By Randy York

At the risk of stereotyping, I’ve found an exception to public perception … you know, the idea that says most avid sports fans are so consumed they never seem to find the time to attend a lecture, experience an opera, watch a ballet or, horror of horrors, spend a day at an art museum instead of a football game. Well, here’s my notable exception that breaks barriers and blazes new trails in Lincoln … a full-scale lecture with the following title: “The NCAA: Who, What, When, Where, How and Certainly Why”. The person who will deliver that lecture is one of the most powerful women in college athletics, none other than Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Nebraska and the Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) for the NU Athletic Department.

Even if the title of that Wednesday, March 28 lecture at 3:30 p.m. at the Nebraska Union Auditorium doesn’t grab you, please understand that Jo is the author of the NCAA Division 1-A FAR statement on the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) post season. As president of the NCAA Division 1-A Faculty Athletics Representatives Association, Potuto heads an organization that’s well aware the FBS conference commissioners are evaluating the post season with one primary purpose in mind – to recommend to the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee the scope and the contours of the FBS moving forward. In other words, before any decisions are made, you can bet the Faculty Athletic Reps will weigh in on all possibilities of what really is best for college football.

Make no mistake. Potuto’s group studies, plans, researches and represents all the various positions on the FBS post season and that includes preferences for 1) returning to the bowl system that predated the Bowl Coalition; 2) returning to the system under the Bowl Coalition which left the bowl system intact except for pairing #1 vs. #2 in a national championship bowl game; 3) the BCS system as currently configured or with modifications that have no additional detrimental impact on student-athlete well-being (the elimination of automatic qualifier conferences, for example); and 4) the newest idea that continues to get national attention … the possible implementation of a four-team playoff.

“That said, we know of no faculty support for a playoff that entails more than four teams,” Potuto said. “Whatever the configuration of the FBS football post season, what must be front and center for all of us in governance positions in intercollegiate athletics is the academic, health, and overall well-being of the student-athletes.”

I will stop right there and make that a teaser for college football fans – and any other interested parties, including academicians – to attend this intriguing presentation in the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture Series. I am convinced this is one lecture that all college football fans would enjoy hearing. Potuto told me her presentation has been distilled to about 35 minutes, leaving plenty of time to discuss her group’s research and primary data points that explain the FAR’s conclusions on what any post-season model must NOT include. So gear yourself up, use your ears and join the debate. As interesting as Potuto’s lecture will be, the Q&A could be even more compelling.

One thing seems fairly certain. Whoever leaves the Nebraska Union Auditorium in less than two weeks will understand how much a constitutional law professor can grasp. That, in turn, will equip those in the audience to be well armed on this popular subject whenever they might call in to a sports talk show or decide to join an Internet discussion. Perhaps they can identify themselves in such conversations as “a voice of reason” because everyone seems to have an opinion on a college football playoff, but very few back it up with research.

The N-Sider recommends this lecture, sponsored by the UNL Research Council, the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of Research and Economic Development. The fact that it’s a free public lecture is merely a bonus that will help you get out of your comfort zone and try something different. Whenever Potuto gets to the “Certainly Why” part of her NCAA discussion, I’m expecting another bonus … something perhaps that may surprise us. Whatever the case, it’s always better to get an educated point of view instead of assuming we know all the answers. Here’s hoping Potuto simplifies the complicated and helps Nebraska fans get the inside scoop. See you there!

Send a comment or story idea to ryork@huskers.com

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Voices from Husker Nation

Thanks for your always great stories. Is there any chance of getting the content in print, audio recording or video for those of us on the far fringes of the frontier? I wish I could be there. Jo obviously is one sharp woman. Being a constitutional law professor, I’d like to get her personal take on our current state of federal government and how we as citizens can be instrumental in getting back to following the Constitution. I’m wondering if she would be a fan of Ron Paul, at least in regard to Constitutional matters. Now THAT would be another great lecture/debate for another time. Keep those great articles coming! Brad Loseke, Beaverton, Oregon

Thanks for a great write-up on the upcoming Jo Potuto lecture. If you have any way to encourage a webcast of this either live or at a later date, please do so for us. Your articles are most appreciated by Husker fans here in Texas. Bud Hunnel, Houston, Texas

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