NCAA Board Votes To Allow Autonomy For Power Five [The Hartford Courant :: ]
(Hartford Courant (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 07--Power Five conferences got what they wanted Thursday, autonomy to make some new rules. Now comes devising and implementing any changes, which would not be until the 2015-16 season.
The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved a new governance structure by a 16-2 vote, thus allowing more freedom for colleges to provide for their athletes. The NCAA really had no choice since there has been much talk about the Power Five bolting from the NCAA.
The Power Five conferences are the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12, which covers 65 schools. These leagues can vote on certain proposals to implement, regardless of what any other Division I school does. One such rule that is widely thought to happen in the near future is providing full cost of attendance since there is gap between what a scholarship covers (tuition, room, board and books) and what it costs to live (expenses such as gas, laundry, extra food, traveling home etc.).
There are various estimates of what might be approved for, in effect, providing a stipend of sorts, but generally it is between $2,000 and $3,000 a year. UConn is on record as supporting full cost of attendance, which athletic department spokesman Mike Enright said could cost $1 million.
"The philosophies and practices we use to run athletics here at UConn are very closely aligned with those used in the five conferences seeking more autonomy," UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement. "The NCAA vote allows institutions to provide their student-athletes with more support, and we too strive for this, of course. We just had another superb year, with two national basketball championships and another in field hockey. And we hired one of the most sought-after coaches in the country to lead our football program -- Bob Diaco. UConn will continue to be a leader and national powerhouse on the athletic scene, across sports, after the vote and well beyond."
The worry at some levels is that these Power Five schools continue to separate themselves from the rest of Division I, the rich get richer, so to speak. UConn is in the American Athletic Conference, not one of the Power Five leagues. Yet, last month at AAC football media day in Newport, R.I., commissioner Mike Aresco was adamant that his league will not be left behind.
Aresco said such things as, "I scoff at the term 'non power conference' applied to us," and "We're not going to take a back seat to anyone."
He pointed to such things as Central Florida defeating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and being ranked 10th in the nation, and UConn winning national titles in men's and women's basketball.
"We hear that the new NCAA governance system, which allows autonomy in limited areas, will cause us somehow to be left behind, that resources of those conferences are simply too great. I don't buy that for a minute and what we did this year proves it," Aresco told the assembled media. "We should not feel threatened by a certain level of autonomy for those conferences with significant resources who want to do more for their student athletes. We, too, have resources and visibility. We share the same goals and eventually we want to be in that same autonomous group."
Aresco also pointed out autonomy only goes so far.
"In the critical areas of scholarship limits and transfer rules, those are going to be subject to shared governance," Aresco said. That can't be done unilaterally by the other five. Our ability to recruit and compete is thereby preserved ... That's huge."
The power conferences, of course, have much deeper pockets. Big Ten schools reportedly will each get $44.5 million in all distributions in 2017-2018. The AAC has a seven-year, $126 million deal with ESPN, about $2 million per school. It also has a TV deal with CBS Sports Network and other revenue streams, but the per-school distribution pales in comparison to Power Five conferences.
The one change from an earlier proposal was reducing the number of conferences required to sponsor a proposal within Power Five from three to one, which is what is currently required to sponsor Division I legislation.
The NCAA said in a press release that "the final model expands the Division I Board of Directors to include not only more presidents, but also a student-athlete, faculty representative, athletics director and female administrator. A new body known as the Council will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the division and include more voices: two seats for student-athletes, two for faculty and four for commissioners."
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