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Leach addresses 'Big Five' autonomy

In a 16-2 vote yesterday, the NCAA board of directors approved a governance proposal to allow the 65 schools in the five richest conferences to govern themselves in areas such as player stipends, but not in things like academic requirements. You can read more on that decision here.

After Friday's practice Washington State coach Mike Leach praised the decision. He also responded to recent comments by coaches that think Big Five schools should only play one another, and defended the NCAA from critics who think it does a poor job of policing its member schools.

Read more after the jump.

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When asked whether or not he agreed with the decision of the NCAA board of governors, Leach responded in the affirmative.

 "I think it probably is. I think it's probably overdue," Leach said. "I think that the game has evolved to the point where it's difficult to meet the needs of all the people that (the NCAA is) asked to meet the needs of. You have anything from just the difference between, say, you've got all the different divisions, you've got all the different men's and women's sports and then the magnitude of Division I football. And then the ability to meet and address all those needs out of one office is pretty tough, and I think that for quite some time we've been asking an awful lot of the NCAA. It's a pretty difficult thing to fulfill."

He added that he has been a vocal critic of the NCAA at times in the past, but that the institution is stretched so thin that effective governance becomes hard and that it is hard to fit the needs of so many different conferences and circumstances with a one-size-fits-all enforcement model. Leach said that cordoning off the 65 major schools may make it more realistic for the various governing bodies to meet their individual needs.

"You've got the different division and the different schools saying, 'we need a rule for this, we need a rule for this, we need a rule for that. Now, you run it."' Leach said. "Well, that's pretty tough. We've been asking a lot of them."

Leach also said that he believes that schools from the Big Five should still play schools from smaller conferences in football. Washington's Chris Petersen drew criticism yesterday for voting "yes" in a poll by ESPN's Brett McMurphy asking coaches if schools from power conferences should only play one another, less than a year after leaving Boise State, where he coached the Broncos to numerous upsets of better-financed opponents.

"I think that when it comes to playing there is room to play other folks," Leach said. "Now that this has happened, I don't think the dust has settled on some of the reorganization is settled, necessarily. I don't know what direction it will go or if it's entirely over yet. I don't have any problem with, I think the variety of playing other people is interesting, too."

Leach added that he believes players should get more cost of attendance money as long as the amount is the same at every school.




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Jacob Thorpe
Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.







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