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Pac-12 presidents weigh in on NCAA

Wed., May 21, 2014

Pac-12 university presidents have sent a letter to their colleagues at the other four major football conferences calling for sweeping changes to the NCAA model and autonomy for those leagues.

A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday night. It was sent last week to the other 53 university presidents from the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference.

Spurred in part by Northwestern football players’ move to unionize, the Pac-12 presidents outlined a 10-point plan for reform that includes many proposals commissioners have been advocating for several years, including a stipend for athletes. The NCAA is working on a new governance structure that will allow the five wealthiest conferences to make some rules without the support of smaller Division I schools.

“We acknowledge the core objectives could prove to be expensive and controversial, but the risks of inaction or moving too slowly are far greater,” the letter reads. “The time for tinkering with the rules and making small adjustments is over.”

Arizona State President Michael Crow told the AP that his counterparts in the Pac-12 are not “happy with where things are going. We’re not happy with the nature of the debate out there. And we felt like our voice is not well understood.”

“We’ve been talking about the need for reform for a long time, and so in a sense our thinking has coalesced,” Crow said. “So we thought it was time to say, ‘Well, this is what we think the NCAA should be and how we think it should work.’ ”

The full list of proposals included in the letter are:

• Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance.

• Provide reasonable ongoing medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition or practice.

• Guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor’s degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing.

• Decrease the demands placed on the athlete in-season.

• Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices.

• Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate requirements for postseason play.

• Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball.

• Provide student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and NCAA levels.

• Adjust existing restrictions on the advice and counsel of agents and other competent professionals.

• Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.

Pac-12 presidents are asking for a response to the proposed reforms by June 4. Crow said the decision by Pac-12 presidents to send the letter was unanimous and the initial feedback has been positive.

The plan comes after Northwestern football players cast secret ballots April 25 on whether to form the nation’s first union for college athletes.

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