SBD/August 8, 2014/Colleges

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  • As NCAA BOD Approves Autonomy For Power Five Conferences, Questions Over Equity Loom

    The NCAA D-I BOD on Thursday voted by a 16-2 margin to grant the Power Five conferences "more freedom to pass legislation without approval of the full NCAA membership," according to Chris Dufresne of the L.A. TIMES. The vote, which was held at NCAA HQ in Indianapolis and is subjected to a 60-day veto period, "grants the Power Five twice as much voting power (37.5%) on one of the NCAA's newly created councils." The five remaining major football conferences "will have 18.5%, while subdivision football and non-football schools will share 37.5%." Athletes and faculty members "would have the remaining share." Pepperdine AD Steve Potts: "Those in our situation were like, 'OK, let's get on with it''' (L.A. TIMES, 8/8). NCAA.org's Michelle Brutlag Hosick noted the new model expands the D-I BOD, which will now be 24 members, to "include not only more presidents, but also a student-athlete, faculty representative, athletics director and female administrator." A new eight-member body "known as the Council will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the division and include more voices: two seats for student-athletes, two for faculty and four for commissioners" (NCAA.org, 8/7).



    DECISION DETAILS: In Chicago, Seth Gruen notes the Council "has voting power over new proposals" and will "vote every April on whether to pass rules." The Council is subject to a 60-day period during which the 75 non-power conference schools can veto the Council's decisions. College Athletes Players Association President Ramogi Huma: "It’s uncertain whether or not this structure will be any more effective than the current structure in terms of getting legislation passed that will provide any meaningful protection for the players. Time will tell whether this is a step in the right direction" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/8). In N.Y., Marc Tracy writes the "first step toward an aristocracy in college sports was codified Thursday." Observers "appear to be divided over whether the new model represents incremental reform designed to thwart more drastic change that could be brought on by the courts or Congress. D-I BOD members "described the atmosphere at Thursday’s meeting as deliberate and polite." Univ. of South Carolina President Harris Pastides: "There was friction, but it was positive" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/8). USA TODAY's Dan Wolken notes the BOD "made one significant change to the proposal introduced last month: For legislation to be considered, only one of the five conferences is required to submit it, not three." That "aligns with the current" D-I legislative process. The new governance model essentially "shifts much of the day-to-day operation of Division I from the presidential level to the practitioners, with significant input" from ADs (USA TODAY, 8/8).

    THE COST-OF-ATTENDANCE ISSUE: The L.A. TIMES' Dufresne notes Thursday's vote immediately "allows the Power Five to move forward on legislation to offer 'full cost of attendance' to athletes." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott anticipates that stipends at his schools "will annually range from $2,000 to $5,000 per student." The amount "will be paid over the course of the nine-month academic calendar and will vary as each school calculates its full cost in accordance with federal guidelines." Scott: "If it's different on each campus, so what? The value of your tuition is different on each campus." He expects that the full-cost measure "will be approved at January's NCAA Convention" in time for the '15 football season (L.A. TIMES, 8/8). Pastides expects that the first agenda item the BOD will tackle "would be providing" the full cost of attendance measure. USA TODAY's Wolken notes discussions about how to calculate the full cost of attendance "are still in the relatively early stages." Pastides: "That's not going to be an easy issue, but I'm confident that's the first thing we'll undertake." (USA TODAY, 8/8). The AP reported a handful of university presidents who spoke at NCAA HQ after the vote "agreed on one thing: Paying athletes to play is off the table." It also is "very unlikely that the five leagues will design their own policies when it comes to academics and rules infractions." But there is a "good chance the five leagues will take steps to add money to scholarships or craft an athlete stipend intended to help cover the so-called full cost of attending college" (AP, 8/7). Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was asked how the ruling affects the discussion surrounding paying student-athletes and responded, "It certainly doesn't make that discussion go away, but I think it mitigates it somewhat. The opportunity to finish college debt free, to have a more robust scholarship that permits some expenditures outside of room, board, books, tuition and fees I think is all together appropriate" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/8).

    STIPEND STIPULATIONS: In Baltimore, Matt Zenitz writes student athletes "likely will be the primary beneficiaries" of Thursday's rulings. The Power Five conferences "are expected to find ways to provide more money to athletes, either through bigger scholarships or stipends to better help cover the cost of college living" (Baltimore SUN, 8/8). In Hartford, Jeff Otterbein reports "various estimates" of the cost-of-attendance stipend generally put it between $2,000-3,000 annually (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/8). Ohio State AD Gene Smith said that at his school, the stipend would cost "about an extra $3,600 for full-ride scholarships." Across the country, the numbers "differ, and Smith said he hopes the group of 65 is strong enough to allow each school to use its own cost of attendance number and be able to say 'so what?' if some schools are higher than others." He added that OSU "has already budgeted" another $1.65M a year to cover cost of attendance (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/8). In Akron, George Thomas writes it is a problem that "not everyone’s cost-of-attendance number is the same." Akron AD Tom Wistrcill: "The gaps in those could be drastic. That’s the unintended part that I don’t think enough people are talking about" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/8).

    DISSENSION WITHIN THE RANKS: In Salt Lake City, Kyle Goon reports U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) "had questions about the NCAA’s Thursday action, warning that a congressional review may be warranted." Hatch: "I am concerned that today’s action could create an uneven playing field that may prevent some institutions from being able to compete fairly with other schools that have superior resources to pay for student-athletes" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 8/8). Drexel AD Eric Zillmer hopes that schools override Thursday's vote, "as Drexel plans to do." Zillmber believes that the Power Five "are grabbing fistfuls of more power by hiding behind what Zillmer calls 'their version of enhancing student welfare.'" Zillmer said of the future outlined by Thursday's vote, "If this was a chemistry experiment, I think it would be an unstable series of events that would not last" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/8). D-I BOD member and Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon, who voted against the measure, in an e-mail after the vote wrote the new structure threatens to "further escalate the arms race in college sports." He added, "The proposed governance changes move in the direction of even greater spending and revenue growth in intercollegiate athletics and even greater disparity between the conferences" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/8). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, “Welcome to ‘Animal Farm.’ George Orwell told us, ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.’ That's what the NCAA has just ruled" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/7).

    GIVING THEIR TWO CENTS: In DC, Kent Babb writes Thursday's vote "puts an effective end to the suggestion that all 351 Division I programs operate on a level playing field" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/8). The AP wrote it "is certainly a dramatic new start for an organization that has come under increasing criticism" (AP, 8/7). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sharon Terlep writes the new system "would make official what has long been true: Universities with big-budget sports programs are in a different echelon than the nation's other schools" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/8). The AKRON BEACON JOURNAL's Thomas asks is this a "bold new world or just evolution?" The fact remains that all of college athletics "has begun a process that puts their future in the hands of a few" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/8). In Austin, Brian Davis writes the vote represented a "monumental moment in college sports" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/8). In Raleigh, Luke DeCock writes a little more money "is going to slip through the hands of administrators and bowl execs and down to the athletes who actually generate the income." The "great monolith of the NCAA has held back change for too long," and the "dam is breaking." DeCock: "Not today, not tomorrow, but the cracking and crumbling has begun" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/8). The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan said of the NCAA, "As we knew it, it's over. ... We started in 1977 with the CFA, the breakaway, the forerunner of the BCS. Now we've gone full cycle. It's a whole new ball game" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/7).

    Some execs think the stipends will cost around $2,000-3,000 annually
    OPINIONS ABOUND
    : In Dallas, Chuck Carlton writes the Power Five basically "get most everything they wanted, enough to put on hold a breakaway from their Division I brethren or the NCAA as a whole." Now that the Power Five "have postured and threatened to form their own division, they must avoid overreach and deliver on promises" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/8). In N.Y., Juliet Macur writes the Power Five "will rule college sports." Other programs, "unable to keep up, would face the choice of dropping down a division or eradicating nonrevenue sports to go all in on football and basketball" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/8). ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel wrote autonomy "will come with its own set of issues." Because the wealthiest schools "are free to act upon their own interests, the rich will likely get richer." Still, it also is a "good bet that student-athletes will receive more benefits." That, "at the end of the day, is the point" (ESPN.com, 8/7). In Austin, Cedric Golden writes the ruling "basically adds up to the big dogs building a huge castle -- complete with a state-of-the-art moat -- to freely go about the business of stacking their millions free from the prying eyes of the undesirables." The undesirables, "formerly known as the nonautomatic qualifying conferences, were given a lesson in the NCAA’s pecking order." It is an "exclusive club that’s not very interested in opening its doors to others" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/8).

    WINNERS & LOSERS: In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff writes non-power conferences will undoubtedly "feel the pinch and must search for even more sources of revenue." Kerkhoff: "The rich aren't getting richer. They already are" (K.C. STAR, 8/8). In Birmingham, Kevin Scarbinsky writes autonomy "isn't going to create an uneven playing field," but rather "going to acknowledge it and embrace it" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 8/8). In Austin, Kirk Bohls writes, "Big boys 1, Little boys 0." Still, athletes "are the real winners" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 8/8). In Cleveland, Doug Lesmerises writes Thursday's vote created "two realities." One is that the "push for athletes rights has gained momentum." The other is that the Power Five "can handle most of this." Not every smaller school "has the money to act on these things" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/8). SI.com's Pete Thamel wrote while college sports "probably" will not change dramatically due to the vote, autonomy still "is an important step in restructuring the amateurism model in its favor" (SI.com, 8/7). In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein writes the haves now "have a whole lot more pressure," and, "thankfully, they possess the will to make changes" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/8). ESPN’s Jay Bilas said, "Up until now, it has been a system where those with lesser resources have been able to say, ‘Hey, we can't afford that, therefore you can't do it.’ This changes that and it only changed it in certain areas because the power conferences have always been able to spend what they wanted on coaches and facilities and the like. ...  I'm dubious that there could be a greater chasm than right now because the power conferences can spend whatever they want on themselves, but just can't spend it on the athlete. … We moved a step closer to the athlete being heard" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 8/8).

    FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARDS: A N.Y. TIMES editorial states under the new rules, the rich "will inevitably get richer." On the "upside, athletes who play for one of the 65 universities in the Big 5 will also benefit, if modestly" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/8). A CHARLOTTE OBSERVER editorial is written under the subheader, "NCAA Vote Will Widen Big-Small School Gap." You can "bet that revenue gap will continue to get larger" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/8).

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  • College Commissioners, ADs, Coaches Weigh In On NCAA Autonomy Vote

    Reactions varied to Thursday's changes to NCAA governance. Among the thoughts and comments:

    FROM POWER FIVE OFFICIALS
    • Florida State AD Stan Wilcox said, "Moving forward it's going to be helpful to student-athletes as we are able to provide hopefully more resources to help them have a better collegiate experience, on and off the field, and obviously in the classroom." FSU Faculty Athletics Rep Pam Perrewe: "I don't think you're going to see any crazy rule changes. These schools, these conferences, they just needed the autonomy" (TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT, 8/8).
    • Colorado AD Rick George: "What it really does is pave the way for us to enact changes that will benefit student-athletes in a more significant way" (DENVER POST, 8/8).
    • Purdue AD Morgan Burke: "We're not pure amateurs anymore. We're not pure professionals. We've created a hybrid. Let's not kid ourselves" (Lafayette JOURNAL & COURIER, 8/8). More Burke: "People think the autonomy has the potential for a runaway freight train. I don't think that's a fair assessment" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/8). 
    • Georgia AD Greg McGarity: "You're seeing a situation where we're able to help those young people out" ("Press Row," ESPN Radio 105.1 Chattanooga, 8/7). 

    FROM NON-POWER FIVE OFFICIALS

    • Charlotte AD Judy Rose: "The biggest issue for all of us nationally is, 'What does autonomy encompass?'" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/8). 
    • Boise State President Bob Kustra: "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. ... No president within Division I should be in favor of these changes. They take Division I athletics down the wrong road to professionalism" (IDAHO STATESMAN, 8/8). 
    • SMU AD Rick Hart: "At the end of the day, this redesigned model allows our programs to continue to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/8).
    • Univ. of Texas-Pan American AD Chris King: "If I worked at a Power Five school, I would think this is a fantastic day. For those that aren’t in the Power Five, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty at this point to see what direction the Power Five is going to take and to see if there’s going to be such a disparity on the competitive side, where there already is" (BROWNSVILLE HERALD, 8/8).
    • Rice President David Leebron: "There is a risk the gap will grow; I think we ought to be candid about that. We're in a world of radically different resources" (ESPN.com, 8/7).
    • IUPUI AD Michael Moore: "A lot of institutions like ours recognize there never was a level playing field simply because of resources." He added, "If those schools have the resources to provide extra benefits to their student-athletes, I think that's a good thing. But it doesn't necessarily mean institutions and conferences that don't aren't providing a good experience for our athletes. Unfortunately, that's what some of the public perception has been. Just because I can't spent a million dollars on a training table doesn't mean my kids aren't being cared for" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/8). 
    • Memphis AD Tom Bowen: "This is not a doomsday at all. ... It will allow athletic directors to be more involved in the decision process and the governance. That's a key component here" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/8). 
    • Univ. of Denver AD Peg Bradley-Doppes: "This will create incredible discussions on every campus throughout the country. I hope those discussions cause people to get their heads out of the sand. I would love to keep Division I athletics intact. This will only increase the gap" (DENVER POST, 8/8). 
    • Air Force AD Hans Mueh: "The big five say they are doing this for all the good reasons. I would like to believe that. But I hope the educational and ethical standards we have aren't eroded by this. ... Those five conferences already get 97 percent of the television revenues. What do they want, 100 percent?" (DENVER POST, 8/8).

    FROM COMMISSIONERS

    • The Big 12's Bob Bowlsby: "The storyline on this is that student-athletes win. This is an opportunity for them to gain an additional measure of expense money. We all know it costs more than room, board, books, tuition and fees to go to college. This is reflective of that. It sets us up for a new covenant that is reflective of 21st Century reality" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/8).
    • WAC's Jeff Hurd: "It’s hard to determine at this point whether it’s a negative, positive, or somewhere in between. And my guess, purely a guess at this point, is it’ll be somewhere in between" (BROWNSVILLE HERALD, 8/8).
    • The AAC's Mike Aresco: "The biggest concern is we would like to be in the room. We would not like to see a great degree of separation between (Power 5 conferences) and others. We think we have proved that competitively within our conference in football and basketball. We don't like the term 'Power 5' particularly. That's not written anywhere in this model" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/7).
    • The Horizon League's Jon LeCrone: "Now the Big Five will have their own legislative proposals that we will have to react to. That will be a significant change" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/8). 

    FROM FOOTBALL COACHES

    • Gardner-Webb's Carroll McCray: "I just hope this doesn't dampen the strength or tear down the integrity of what we have in the NCAA now" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/8). 
    • Minnesota's Jerry Kill: "The schools I was at before, I feel bad for because it's going to be tough for them to get that type of money" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/8). 
    • Maryland's Randy Edsall: "It's good that we have that. I think it's one step closer to the five conferences splitting off. I really do" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/7). 
    • BYU's Bronco Mendenhall: "If the true intent is to benefit the student-athletes and their well-being, within reason, I am for parts of those ideas. In the discussions that I have been part of, I wish I could say sincerely that that is the motive. It usually is: 'Who has the most money? Who can provide more for the sake of themselves and their program, not really the student-athlete?' And it is moving much more toward professionalism than amateurism" (SLTRIB.com, 8/7).

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