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NCAA board delays expense allowance

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA Division I Board of Directors still believes scholarship limits should be expanded.

It just wants time to work out the details.

In a surprise move Saturday, the board delayed implementation of a $2,000 expense allowance, opting instead to ask the working group to make a modified proposal in April.

“What I heard was the board’s resolve with the concept (of the miscellaneous expense allowance) and moving forward with it, but giving us a chance to work out concerns of the implementation,” said Middle Tennessee State President Sidney McPhee, who chairs the subcommittee that made recommendations Saturday.

Supporters insist that the 14-4 vote wasn’t an outright rejection of the idea.

The complaints began pouring in almost as soon as conferences were given the option of providing an additional $2,000 toward the full cost of attendance, money that covers expenses beyond tuition, room and board, books and fees.

Schools had three primary concerns: Title IX compliance, how the stipend would apply to sports that use partial scholarships and when the rule would go into effect. NCAA President Mark Emmert supported clarifying the language on Title IX and partial scholarships.

“The point is to make sure we respond to the membership’s concerns,” Emmert said on the final day of the NCAA’s annual convention. “We just want to make sure we get it right.”

If a new proposal passes in April, it would go back to the membership for another 60-day comment period. Opponents would then have a second chance to force an override vote, possibly delaying the legislation even longer – certainly not the pace Emmert expected when he started pushing for swift changes in August.

The delay will cause at least one immediate discrepancy between college athletes.

Recruits who signed national letters of intent in November will be able to collect the money they were promised. Those who sign in February and April will not get that money, said David Berst, the NCAA’s vice president for governance in Division I.

The board sent a clearer message on another hot-button issue, multiyear scholarships. Previously, scholarships were renewed on an annual basis. Under the current legislation, athletes would be able to keep the full value of their scholarship for the length of their eligibility and not have the scholarship taken away based solely on athletic performance.

Those decisions are being made conference by conference.