By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
LITTLE ROCK -- When the Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Championship takes place this Saturday at Verizon Arena in Little Rock, it will mark the beginning of the postseason for the league’s eight gymnastics teams. One SEC administrator in particular, however, has been busy preparing for the collegiate gymnastics postseason for much longer.
Kim Green, Associate Athletics Director at the University of Florida, has had a front-row seat to the inner workings of the sport for nearly three years as a member of the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee. In 2012-13, her final year on the committee, Green is serving as chair.
“I was recommended to the committee by our conference office,” Green said. “Once the conference submits the name, the NCAA nominating committee makes the final selection after its review of the various candidates. The committee is comprised of both administrators and coaches and, it is a requirement that an administrator served as committee chair.”
Mark Alnutt, who served as senior associate athletics director at the University of Missouri until he was named athletics director at Southeast Missouri State last April, had been the chair of the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee. With Alnutt’s new position at SEMO, he was no longer eligible to fulfill his remaining term on the committee.
“Mark’s departure created two voids that needed to be filled – a new committee representative for the South Central region and a new committee chair,” Green said. “The chair position is voted on through a democratic process. When you agree to serve on a committee, you agree to represent the sport and create a fair and positive championship experience. I told them that I want to do what I can do advance the sport and, if that means serving as chair, then I am happy to assume the role.”
Green has overseen one of the most significant additions to the sport of collegiate women’s gymnastics in recent history, as the 2013 season saw the implementation of a technical rules interpreter.
The NCAA brought on board former collegiate gymnastics coach Penny Jernigan to serve as a primary point of contact for coaches and judges regarding any rules interpretations. She also publishes a weekly newsletter that is sent to coaches and judges regarding each of the rules interpretations provided in the previous week.
“We felt we really needed to do a much better job in terms of communicating questions asked and responses provided to coaches and judges,” Green said. “Hiring a rules interpreter was an important piece we had been discussing and, for the 2013 season, we took the next logical step and hired Penny.
“That has really made my job a lot easier,” Green continued. “Before, we would spend a great deal of time fielding questions from coaches and judges, but Penny has done an awesome job of communicating interpretations. That has really offset some of the heavy lifting of the committee and now the committee can shift more focus to big-picture items. She has been invaluable.”
While Green acknowledges the time commitment required to serve on the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee, it is one she feels is manageable and reasonable to balance.
“I think the time aspect definitely starts to increase in the spring,” Green said. “It involves conference calls and working regional and national competitions. The annual committee meeting is three days in Indianapolis. It’s mostly an hour here or two hours there to discuss agenda items. It’s not intrusive at all. The chair also is involved in the site visits for the national championships and on all of the conference calls with constituents, so that is a little bit more time consuming.”
Though Green may work for the University of Florida, she understands that the decisions she makes on the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee must be made in the best interest of the sport.
“We put a lot of time and effort into making certain that our championships are fair,” Green said. “When you step into the committee role, you kind of leave your institutional or conference affiliations behind. You want to do what is best for the sport. You really have to look beyond that and we put forth great effort in making sure the decisions that we are making are fair.”
The global perspective that Green has gained through her role with the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee is one that has served her well in her primary administrative position at Florida.
“It’s helpful because, on the committee, you are looking at decisions that you make affecting not only schools and programs in your region, but they also impact NCAA gymnastics as a whole,” Green said. “When you look at your role as an administrator on campus, you do have to look out for the best interest of the sports you supervise, but also in context with the entire sport complement on campus. It gives you a much bigger picture to kind of look at all sides affected in decisions that you make in one instance. You have to think beyond that instance.”
Ultimately the charge of Green and the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee is to create a positive experience for all involved, with the chief priority being the student-athletes.
“You want to create memories for your student-athletes,” Green said. “Everyone has a role in that from committee members to coaches and administrators on campuses to fans. If you’re doing something that is not consistent with a positive student-athlete and fan experience in mind, who is gaining by that? We really want to make sure it is a positive student-athlete experience, especially because those student-athletes are the future coaches and parents and fans of the sport of gymnastics.”