The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm continues its Blue Ribbon Tips series with insight from Chris Monasch, St. John’s University director of athletics. A Blue Ribbon Tips post contains athletically-related best practices, strategies and tips for administrators from NCAA member institutions and other higher-education professionals.
Mr. Monasch believes the following will make a big impact on intercollegiate athletics during the next five years:
“The finances of our industry will always be a challenge. A large part of our expenditures include salaries and facilities improvements which are very much driven by the open market. Many increases in cost are beyond our control such as the increase in the cost of a scholarship, the cost of traveling our teams, etc. NCAA legislation will not be a solution to our challenges in this area in my view. The discussion that our current model cannot sustain has been going on for the thirty years that I have been in the industry. The numbers may be larger but I am not so sure the proportion of how athletics departments spend money compared to the overall university budget has changed all that much.”
“The explosion of media opportunities has created stress in this area. We must work to balance opportunities to generate money, which ultimately creates opportunities for our student-athletes, with the image of what is appropriate in the intercollegiate model. The proper balance of the use of the likeness of the student-athlete to promote our programs, and is there an avenue for the student-athlete to use his or her market value, is something we should continue to review.”
“The constantly evolving technologies especially in the area of social media are both an opportunity and a challenge for us. The opportunity is that we can reach a larger and more targeted audience, but also a challenge since we are exposed by those connections.”
Finally, Mr. Monasch offers the following best practices relative to compliance:
“I believe the key is to be heavily integrated with others outside of your athletics department. Our compliance officer has a dual reporting line to our legal counsel’s office, our business manager reports through university business affairs, and our academic people up through the provost’s office. Our goal is to be transparent and have numerous people with various university interests overseeing the different processes.”
Chris Monasch Biography
Chris Monasch was named the fifth Athletic Director in St. John’s University history on February 1, 2005. Monasch, who returned to his alma mater after serving as the Commissioner of the America East Conference, oversees all St. John’s 17 varsity athletic programs and leads the University’s Strategic Plan for Athletics, including facilities, marketing, corporate relations and NCAA compliance.
Monasch, 45, brings a wealth of experience in Division I collegiate athletics, NCAA governance, student development, external affairs and fund-raising.
Monasch has spent his entire career in collegiate athletics, serving in various leadership capacities for more than 24 years and has a résumé that touches some 30 institutions. He has served as commissioner of both the America East and Northeast Conferences, as well as Assistant and Associate Athletic Director at Fordham and Seton Hall Universities, respectively. He has experience with complex issues such as NCAA governance, compliance and academic support, and is known as a visionary administrator. Monasch is a St. John’s alumnus, graduating with a B.S. in athletic administration in 1981.
“Chris’s three decades of experience with college athletics, his Division I leadership and his strong ties to St. John’s will all greatly benefit our student-athletes,” said Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of St. John’s University upon Monasch’s hiring. “We see even greater days ahead for St. John’s athletics with Chris at the helm as our Athletic Director.”
“I am thrilled to be able to return to my alma mater and New York,” Monasch said. “St. John’s has a rich athletic tradition and I look forward to building on that great foundation. I am thankful to Father Harrington and the University community for embracing me so warmly.”
Monasch spent the last eight years as Commissioner of the America East Conference, leading that organization in implementing a NCAA compliance program, developing a marketing program and organizing the league’s television network. Monasch also created the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and restructured the league governance process to empower the member institutions’ presidents as its chief governing body. Monasch also oversaw the addition of four new members to the conference and brought the conference to its highest level of athletic success in its history.
Prior to his tenure at the AEC, Monasch served as the first full-time Commissioner of the Northeast Conference, a position he held for nine years. He extricated the league from the ECAC in the late 1980s, changing its name from the ECAC Metro Conference, expanded league membership, added Division I-AA football to its sports sponsorship list and developed its television network.
Monasch has been a member of several NCAA Committees, including the NCAA Management Council, the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, the Recruiting Committee and the Division I Baseball Committee. He has been an advocate for student-athletes, serving two terms as liaison with the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He served as chair of the Division I Management Council during the 2004-05 academic year.
Monasch began his career as an Assistant Athletic Director at Fordham University, a role he filled for four years before serving as the school’s interim athletic director in 1985, where he also started the school’s first academic support program. As an Associate Athletic Director at Seton Hall University, Monasch was a key player in the athletic department’s upgrade that led to a men’s basketball Final Four appearance and the move of its games to the Meadowlands.
Monasch serves on the Advisory Board of the National Consortium of Academics and Sports. He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Sport Management program and the College of Professional Studies at St. John’s. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Seton Hall University School of Law and St. John’s University.
In addition to his degree from St. John’s, Monasch holds a master of arts in communications from Fordham University (1984) and a Juris Doctorate from Seton Hall University (1993). He is a member of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Bar Associations.
Monasch currently resides in Manhattan.