Gonzaga's Mike Roth

Gonzaga Director of Athletics Mike Roth spoke about the future of GU athletics on Thursday.

Gonzaga University Athletic Director Mike Roth spoke about plans going forward for GU athletics in a GU Town Hall Webinar Thursday morning.

Some of the topics discussed by Roth included plans for fall athletics programs and Roth’s reaction to the NCAA ruling that college athletes have the ability to be compensated for the athlete’s name, image and likeness. 

When talking in the webinar, Roth said, according to Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review that he believes that face-to-face communication on campuses and the NCAA football season starting on time are two important things that need to happen first before starting any other fall sports.

Universities like GU have recently expressed the interest and goals of returning to a normal on-campus fall semester in the past week, but like everything else surrounding the coronavirus, Roth said there are still things in which they cannot predict.

“I’ve told people if I had a crystal ball right now, my crystal ball would look like a bowling ball,” Roth said. “I can’t see in it at all.”

In turn, if the 2020 football season were to be delayed, Roth said the corresponding fall sports and the college basketball seasons for both the men's and women's teams would follow suit. 

Another unknown Roth said in his webinar is the way in which they can have fans in the stadium. Roth said he wishes to have fans cheering at games, as he is not a fan of playing games without the Zag support.

Roth referenced a quote from the athletic director of Ohio State University Gene Smith when he said,  “If it’s not safe for our fans to come to games, how would it be safe for our student-athletes to play games?”

“Not everybody agrees with that sentiment, but I think there’s some sound logic to it,” Roth said.

With the sentiments of students returning to Spokane in the fall, Roth said he was worried about the impact of travel restriction for international student athletes. Roth said his concern is getting them back from their respective home countries.

In the article written by Meehan, Roth said he does not anticipate having to cut any fall sports, nor did he mention if any administrators or coaches took a paycut, as GU is a private institution and wished not to share the information publicly. 

Finally, when referencing name, image and likeness (NIL) rights of the student-athletes, Meehan writes, “The NCAA’s Board of Governors on Wednesday approved guidelines allowing athletes to profit from things such as endorsements, autographs, personal appearances and social media influence.” With the final vote to be held in January, the NIL rights would become effective in the 2021-22 season.

Roth said he liked and approved of the NIL rights, but sees some flaws with the format in which it is being carried out. Roth said that with the current format, it allows for student-athletes to do their own thing without the schools being involved, leading to schools not being able to make it part of the recruitment process.

“That frustrates me, to be quite honest, because we already have a problem within the NCAA with schools and individuals not willing to follow the rules.” Roth said.  “… My fear is with the restrictions. I would like to see them give more freedoms because the restrictions they’re putting on is just another opportunity for schools willing to cheat to cheat.”


Vinny Saglimbeni is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @vinnysaglimbeni

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