The USOPC has established a think tank to help co-ordinate the national college sports system ©USOPC

A think tank will be established this month by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to identify solutions to help sustain Olympic and Paralympic programming opportunities within college athletics.

A roster of 34 names including Olympians, Paralympians, coaches and administrators has been announced for the joint venture with the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council (CAC), officially named the USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tank.

"Our country’s unique college system is critical not just to the health of our Olympic and Paralympic teams, but to the longstanding vitality of sports across our country," said USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland.

“Now is the time to assemble leaders who are passionate about keeping this ecosystem strong for today’s athletes and for the generations to come."

The USOPC think tank will initiate three working groups focused on the areas of partnerships, sport economics and regulations.

Chaired by Scott Stricklin, University of Florida athletics director, the effort is a collaboration across schools, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the USOPC, national governing bodies and Team USA athletes.

USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland will be one of the members of a Think Tank being established this month to help co-ordinate the college sports system ©Getty Images
USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland will be one of the members of a Think Tank being established this month to help co-ordinate the college sports system ©Getty Images

The partnerships working group will explore options to drive national alignment around Olympic and Paralympic sport structures and examine innovative collaboration opportunities across a variety of stakeholder groups.

The 11-member group comprises Greg Byrne (chair), University of Alabama athletics director, Gene Smith, Ohio State University senior vice president and athletic director, Jennifer Frasier, NCAA director of division I governance, Katie Bynum, USOPC chief strategy & growth officer, Max Siegel, USA Track & Field chief executive, Cayla Barnes, Olympian (ice hockey) and Boston College student-athlete, Jessica Heims, Paralympian (track and field) and University of Northern Iowa student-athlete, Brett Gorman, USRowing director of coaching education and USRowing national team coach, Martin Jarmond, University of California and Los Angeles director of athletics, Greg Brown, former Learfield IMG College President and chief executive and Caroline Rebello, Evolution Media Capital managing director.

The sport economics working group will review sport-specific and nationwide sport economic management models to promote sustainable behaviours for lasting sport sponsorship.

The 11-member group is comprised of Rob Mullens (chair), University of Oregon athletic director, Sandy Barbour, Pennsylvania State University vice president for intercollegiate athletics, Kathleen McNeelly, NCAA senior vice-president of administration and chief financial officer, Sarah Hirshland, USOPC chief executive, Rich Bender, USA Wrestling executive director and USOPC Board member, Sho Nakamori, former national team member (gymnastics) and Stanford University student-athlete, Maddie Musselman, Olympian (water polo) and University of California, Los Angeles student-athlete, Jeremy Fischer, USA Track & Field national team coach, Val Ackerman, Big East Conference Commissioner, Jamie Pollard, Iowa State University director of athletics and Don Bruce, University of Tennessee Professor in the Haslam College of Business.

The regulations working group will explore regulatory adjustments to allow schools more flexibility to manage their sport profiles in a meaningful and sustainable way.

The group comprises Chris Plonsky (chair), University of Texas chief of staff and executive senior associate athletics director, Bubba Cunningham, University of North Carolina director of athletics, Stan Wilcox, NCAA executive vice-president of regulatory affairs, Rick Adams, USOPC chief of sport performance & NGB services, Pat Kelleher, USA Hockey executive director, Kendall Spencer, national team member (track and field) and University of New Mexico student-athlete, Sierra Schmidt, national team member (swimming) and University of Michigan student-athlete, Adam Krikorian, USA Water Polo women’s senior national team head coach, Robin Harris, Ivy League executive director, Ray Anderson, Arizona State University vice-president for university athletics and Jim Knowlton, University of California, Berkeley's director of athletics.