INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- College football's biggest schools are ready to spend millions of dollars more on their athletes.
Individual players are likely to cash in on only a small portion of that money.
After the NCAA's board of directors voted 16-2 on Thursday to give
the five power conferences the ability to establish some rules
unilaterally, a handful of university presidents and chancellors
unanimously agreed that pay-for-play won't be approved. Instead, the
school leaders said they were only willing to expand scholarship limits
to provide a limited amount of spending money.
"I think there will be some institutions and conferences that will
take a hard look at what that full cost-of-attendance means to them,"
UCLA chancellor Gene Block said. "But I think the other thing is we'll
be able to involve people in the process more quickly and in a more
nimble way, and I think it's really, really important that it protects
the integrity of the collegiate model."
Current rules only allow scholarships to cover the cost of tuition,
room and board, books and fees. The five biggest leagues -- the ACC, Big
Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC -- have argued that they should help defray
additional expenses such as laundry and travel for players' families.
The schools will soon get that chance.
Conference leaders have until Oct. 1 to create a list of rules they'd
like to change on their own. All it will require is a majority vote in
one of the five leagues, and 12 of the 20 presidents or chancellors on
the new, expanded board. An 80-member committee, with one representative
from each of the 65 schools and three student-athletes from each
conference, would vote on the items. It would require 48 votes and a
majority in three of five conferences or 41 votes and a majority in four
of five conferences to pass.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said the board will retain veto power if
it deems the solutions go too far, though he said that would be rare.
The top priority for most schools: giving athletes a stipend.
In October 2011, the board approved a measure to give up to $2,000 to
athletes if their leagues opted in. Two months later, a group of
smaller schools gathered enough signatures to overturn the vote, which
prompted the big schools to seek autonomy over more items.
Despite the overwhelming vote at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, it wasn't welcomed everywhere.
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed concerns about an unequal
playing field, Title IX compliance and antitrust ramifications. Gerald
Gurney, president of The Drake Group, an NCAA watchdog, has complained
the new structure could damage non-revenue sports. Boise State President
Bob Kustra was even more explicit.
"For those who already think that Division I athletics has devolved
into a business that too often dictates university priorities rather
than the other way around, it's about to get worse," he said. "These
elite programs will bear less and less resemblance to amateur athletics
and the mission and role of a university. No one should think it will
Those who helped draft the legislation insist there are checks and balances to prevent overreach.
"It does provide degrees of autonomy for the five high-resource
conferences," said Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch, the board
chairman. "This is not complete autonomy. We're still part of Division
I, but I think it allows us to provide more benefits to
It's a dramatic new start for an organization that has come under increasing criticism.
Already this year, the NCAA has agreed to settle two lawsuits for a
combined $90 million and still awaits a judge's decision on a federal
lawsuit in which plaintiffs led by Ed O'Bannon have argued college
sports' amateurism rules are anti-competitive and allow the organization
to operate as an illegal cartel.
Also pending is a decision by the National Labor Relations Board on
whether Northwestern football players can form the first union for
college athletes in U.S. history.
The new legislation is intended to give the NCAA's most visible
schools enough flexibility to perhaps ward off additional lawsuits.
The transition to a new governing system could begin in January. The
five richest leagues will have nearly twice as much voting power (37.5
percent) as any other group on the new council, where most legislation
will be approved or rejected.
While there are worries about the growing gap between the haves and
have-nots, the smaller conference schools are still angling for a chance
to adopt the autonomous rules, too.
"I think that's important to examine," said Wright State President
David Hopkins, whose school plays in the Horizon League. "At least we
want to have the opportunity to work and choose what we decide (on the