It’s been a long time since the University of Colorado has had national relevance in terms of the most high-profile sports in college athletics, football and men’s basketball.
Athletic director Rick George is giving the Buffaloes a voice in significant NCAA issues, however.
Last week, George was named to the 13-member College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee, adding to the list of groups he has been a part of during his tenure at CU.
George also serves on the Division I Council, which handles the day-to-day decision making for Division I athletics; the Division I transfer working group; and on an 18-member committee that examines the ability of student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness.
Last fall, George completed a two-year term as chair of the LEAD1 Association, a group that represents the athletic directors, programs and student-athletes for all schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
George’s association with all of those groups gives CU more national exposure and a voice in important NCAA matters. Being a part of the exclusive CFP committee increases CU’s exposure to the country.
“I think it’s good for Colorado and certainly I’m honored to do it, and I’m glad to do it,” said George, who will begin his three-year term with the CFP this spring. “Anytime we’re on a national platform for something like this, I think it’s positive. (Chancellor Phil DiStefano) has been incredibly supportive of doing this and I’m excited about it.”
George has never shied away from an opportunity to be in leadership positions because of the benefit to CU and his ability to be more in-tune with college athletics.
“I had been out of college athletics for a while (before coming to CU in 2013), so being on the Division I Council for the NCAA has been really good for me, to be able to learn and also to have a voice in a lot of key issues that are coming up for the NCAA,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of the conversation and I also think it’s good for CU, for us to be in those discussions.
“It’s my opportunity to give back and to have a voice in collegiate athletics. That was important to me.”
The CFP committee is in the spotlight every football season, as the group is responsible for selecting the four teams to play for a national title, as well as participants all in New Year’s Six bowl games.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott recommended George for the position. Given his life-long association with football, George was eager to accept.
George played football at Illinois and began working for the program after graduation. He was the recruiting coordinator for five Illini classes. In 1987, he was hired by Bill McCartney as CU’s recruiting coordinator and was later promoted to assistant athletic director. He then spent eight years (1991-98) at Vanderbilt, where part of his duties included overseeing the football program.
“Football has given me a lot in my life,” George said. “That’s why I’m at where I’m at today, and to be able to (be on the CFP committee) and be a part of that and to be able to give back to college football, I’m all in.
“To be on the selection committee is an incredible honor, so I’m going to take it very seriously and I’m going to work hard at it and I’m excited about.”
As the Buffs’ athletic director the past seven seasons, he has filled his Saturdays with watching games around the country, including attending CU’s games. He’ll likely watch even more as part of the selection committee.
“I used to do that for a living; I used to evaluate talent,” he said. “I did it probably for the first 12 to 15 years of my career and so I’ll be looking at a lot of film and have an input in the discussion.”
George also has input on one of the most important issues in college athletics: name, image and likeness (NIL). Long opposed to such legislation, the NCAA announced in October that it is taking steps towards developing a model to allow NIL compensation for student-athletes.
George is on the committee working on the framework for new NCAA legislation.
“There’s a lot of nuances around everything, so we’re kind of working through all that right now,” George said. “Should a student-athlete be able to monetize their name, image and likeness? Yes. But we’ve got to do it in a manner that protects the integrity of our competition and recruiting and that’ll be important as we go through all the different issues that relate to everything that we’re considering.”
Over the next year, there could be significant NIL developments, and in the fall the CFP will take center stage. George is happy to be a part of both groups as he represents CU.
“It’s always good when Colorado has an opportunity to be involved in things on a national platform,” he said.