July 19, 2014 in Sports

NCAA sets August vote on autonomy

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INDIANAPOLIS – The biggest conferences in college sports may finally get exactly what they want – autonomy over some of today’s most contentious issues.

After years of consternation and months of debate, the NCAA announced Friday that its board of directors will vote Aug. 7 on a formal proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over the college rules. The proposal also would give athletic directors and student-athletes bigger roles in the legislative process.

“The Division I membership overall and the steering committee in particular worked hard to create a structure that will allow the division to operate more simply and inclusively,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement released Friday. “It shows a clear commitment to support student-athletes and allow them not only a place at the table but a voice in the process.”

The most sweeping changes would come in the newly-created council, which will be run primarily by athletic directors.

If three of the five biggest leagues agree they should have autonomy and 12 of the 20 university leaders on the board agree, then one representative from each of the 65 schools and three athletes from each conference would vote on the issue. The major conferences would have until Oct. 1 to come up with their first list of possible topics.

Emmert’s support hardly means passage is a slam dunk, though.

In October 2011, he urged the board to adopt a new $2,000 per year stipend to cover the full cost-of-attendance – money beyond that allowed for tuition, room and board, books and fees. Two months later, it was overridden by the overall membership and has never been brought back for a vote despite Emmert’s continued public support.

It could happen again. If the measure passes, schools would have 60 days to sign onto an override measure. If 75 schools joined the movement, the board must consider a rules change. If the total reaches at least 125, the rule would be suspended until the board schedules a vote to reconsider, which is what happened with the stipend.

But this may be different.

School and conference leaders from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have publicly argued for more than a year that they need more influence. There has been speculation that if they didn’t get that voting power, they would break away from the rest of the Division I schools and create their own college division.

Though that was never those schools’ first choice, they have grown weary of being an increasingly larger target for critics who complain about the amount of revenue college sports generate and the “paltry” portion athletes receive.

Under the new structure, the big boys of college sports would have nearly twice as much voting power and on some issues could implement their own rules, such as the stipend, without the votes of the smaller schools or imposing those rules on other conferences.


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