Dec 4, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; (left to right) Ohio State Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney former head coach Gary Williams and Maryland Terrapins athletic director Kevin Anderson pose after Williams, former head coach at both schools is given an award before their game at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State won the game 76-60. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Board Approves Division I Autonomy

The powerful may just get a whole lot more powerful in the near future.

On Thursday, the NCAA approved a new governance structure for D1 sports that will give the five so-called “power conferences” autonomy in their legislative decisions, something previously unheard of.

In a near unanimous 16-2 vote by the Division 1 Board of Directors, the new governance structure was agreed upon at the NCAA headquarters. The two dissenting votes came from Delaware President Patrick Harker, the Colonial Athletic Conference representative, and Darmouth President Phil Hanlon, the Ivy League representative.

The vote becomes official after a 60-day veto period expires.

The proposal is a slightly tweaked version of the one laid out by the NCAA last month, and incorporates a suggestion by Big Ten president Jim Delany and Southeastern Conference president Mike Slive. The proposal last month asked that the power conferences only require a simple majority to pass legislation.

Today’s proposal includes this:

The new governing structure will allow colleges much more flexibility in providing for their athletes without a ratification going through the NCAA now. The five conferences will be allowed to present their plan moving forward at the next NCAA Convention, held in Washington, D.C., in January 2015.

Current proposals seem to include full cost-of-attendance stipends, which can offer monetary assistance up to $5,000 per player; travel allowances for players’ family members; and guaranteed four-year scholarships. The issues themselves have yet to be hammered out, so the ruling itself is symbolic in its intent until concrete measures are laid out.

For larger schools, this acknowledges the universities ability to provide more comprehensive coverage to players en lieu of rising profits and television contracts.

For players, this could mean more security moving forward both on and off the field. For smaller schools, however, this could be a punishing blow. Those schools in smaller conferences with less budget flexibility will likely have trouble keeping up with the benefits packages offered by larger schools. The 75 non power conference schools have 60 days to veto this legislation, but that is unlikely to happen.

If so, there stands an even more interesting chance of the power conferences becoming completely autonomous.


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