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Pac-12 will propose new benefits for student-athletes

PULLMAN – The Pac-12 Conference announced Wednesday that it has notified the NCAA that it will propose new benefits for student-athletes.

In May, the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12’s member schools wrote a letter to their colleagues at the NCAA’s five major conferences outlining ways to better support student-athletes athletically, academically and monetarily.

“The landscape of college sports is changing, but no matter what happens, we want to protect the college experience and preserve the traditions that make college sports enjoyable for athletes, fans, parents and alumni,” said Dr. Elson S. Floyd, president of Washington State University and chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group in a release. “We are seizing our opportunity to usher in meaningful reform to help student-athletes and restore the academic primacy of our universities.”

The Pac-12 proposals include increasing the amount of money given to athletes to cover the cost of their attendance, supporting players that return to school to finish their degrees and enhancing medical support and insurance.

Washington State football coach Mike Leach said that he is generally supportive of most of the proposals except one to start offering multiyear scholarship agreements. Players currently receive athletic scholarships for one year that are renewed annually.

Leach said longer agreements would limit the ability of coaching staffs to ensure that the students were compliant with the program’s standards.

“A guy’s got to act right and behave right,” Leach said. “He’s got to do his part and so I don’t see why – because as it is now, most schools will pay until they graduate and all that – but they have to be a good citizen. They have to be a good citizen. They have to show up to their tutor appointments. They have to show up to academics. They have to show up to team stuff.”

The new cost of attendance funds are intended to go to out-of-pocket expenses such as laundry, gasoline and travel.

“Student-athletes make tremendous contributions to their schools on and off the field and we want to boost the assistance they receive,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “Better meeting their evolving needs will allow us to preserve, and improve upon, the existing collegiate experience that has provided millions of student-athletes access to higher education and transformed the lives of so many young men and women.”

The presidents and chancellors will meet on Oct. 27 to discuss implementing these reforms, which would take effect at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.

The NCAA had previously established Wednesday as the first day for the five major conferences to propose changes to how Division I athletes are supported by their institutions.

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