The NCAA today released info today about a new governance system which, in theory, will be "streamlined" and "responsive to needs." Whether this new structure will be able to respond to issues quicker will be seen in the coming years, but there will be voices added to the governance system that could possibly lead to additional reforms.
Under the proposal, the division would still be led by a Board of Directors composed primarily of university presidents. However, new voices would be added: the chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; the chair of a new group tentatively called the Council; and the most senior Division I member of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association’s executive committee. The council chair would always be an athletics director, giving that constituency an automatic spot on the board.
The Board would focus chiefly on oversight and strategic issues, while leaving much of the day-to-day policy and legislative responsibility to the council.
The Council (I feel like we have convened a meeting of the five families, or a tribal council on Survivor) would have 38 members, with at least 60% of those members athletic directors, two student athletes, and four commissioners (one from FBS, one from FCS, and two from the remaining conferences) and will be final word on shared governance decisions.
The most intriguing part of the release is in regards to more autonomy being given to the power conferences:
In order to allow the five highest-resource conferences (the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference) to address their unique challenges, the model would grant them autonomy to make rules on specific matters affecting the interests of student-athletes.
Well, the rich just might be getting richer. The power conferences can come up with their own rules and in these areas to start:
Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:
- financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;
- insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;
- academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and
- other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).
This is potentially huge, if the power conferences could assist students in finding (or paying) insurance policies (like the ones Myles Jack just took out), possibly finding/assigning private tutors to keep on top of their at-risk athletes in academic issues, but paying for family travel ALONE could be a huge turning point in attracting even more out of state recruits (and keep us out of NCAA trouble with unscrupulous agents and/or agents that have a bone to pick when they are later spurned by the athlete.)
Imagine if the Pac-12 stated that they will provide medical insurance to all athletes for injuries that occur outside of designated practice hours or games. That's a huge safety net to so many athletes who may have worried about pushing themselves in off season workouts, or pondered if they blew their ACL as they ran the stairs in Drake how they will pay for surgery.
Also potentially huge and under consideration:
The steering committee continues to discuss other areas that could be included in the areas of autonomy, including the creation of mandatory time away from athletics for student-athletes; eliminating rules that prohibit student-athletes from pursuing careers outside of athletics while still competing (for example, making music and art or writing a book); recruiting; transfer issues; and athletics department personnel.
These are all issues Ramogi Huma has fought for student athletes, and was featured by SBNation in longform this week. If you have a few minutes, definitely read the article written about Huma, or check back to the feature we did on him a few years ago. It will be interesting to see if the stipend discussion starts flaring up again.
Also approved by the NCAA today are transfers who are not eligible to play right away without a waiver, they can have up to six years to fulfill the four years of eligibility, and the unlimited meals proposal is now approved.