The NCAA is "under pressure to provide more benefits to big-time college athletes," and on Thursday the organization "took its first steps toward creating a Division I governance structure that makes that possible," according to Brad Wolverton of the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. Hundreds of college presidents and ADs over several hours during the NCAA Convention in San Diego "debated a proposal that, among other things, would streamline the association’s rule-making system and provide more autonomy to the wealthiest conferences." If Thursday’s discussions were "any indication, there are still plenty of differences left to iron out." Chief among them is the "gap between the richest athletic departments and those at the bottom of Division I." Those on the "lower rungs expressed worry about the widening competitive imbalances the proposal would usher in." Northeastern AD Peter Roby said, "The difference between those five and the rest becomes greater. How do we maintain competitive opportunity for everybody and not just for those that are significantly different?" Several ADs "raised questions about their proposed responsibilities on committees, and one took issue with their lack of key leadership posts." N.C. State AD Debbie Yow said, "The directors of athletics are not in every group. There is only one group that -- 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- is devoted to this enterprise, and we should be included in the leadership." Her comment "drew loud applause" (CHRONICLE.com, 1/17).
IRONING OUT THE ISSUES: ESPN.com's Kevin Gemmell noted a sub-committee of the D-I BOD "proposed a rough governance model that would give more autonomy to the five power conferences -- the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC -- and give a stronger voice to athletic directors with respect to how student-athletes are supported." The three-hour dialogue served "strictly as a give-and-take session." The objective is that the new model "can be firmed up as soon as this spring." It would allow the five conferences, referred to as the "well-resourced conferences," to make "certain legislative decisions on their own." The two major issues would be "the full cost of attendance and ongoing education scholarships" (ESPN.com, 1/16). Wake Forest President and NCAA D-I BOD Chair Nathan Hatch said that the goal was "to streamline governance, restore the membership’s trust in the governance structure and re-engage athletic directors in what has till now been a process very much dominated by university presidents." In San Diego, Stefanie Loh notes the administrators "focused much of the dialogue on who should be included in the decision-making process and how to balance the need for competence while still ensuring fair representation of all conferences and constituencies." ADs -- who represented about 37% of the administrators in attendance -- were "vocal about wanting a more significant role in the governance process." The discussion was "Part I in a planned two-day dialogue, but no decisions are expected to be made this week" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/17).
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE...: SI.com's Stewart Mandel noted the administrators' vision for the new NCAA "looks a whole lot like the old NCAA -- with a board and council and a whole bunch of loosely connected sub-councils." Members' "collective frustration -- simmering behind the scenes for much of the past year but never before on full public display -- was palpable both in the question-and-answer segment of Thursday's three-hour session and as attendees drifted out afterward" (SI.com, 1/16). YAHOO SPORTS' Pat Forde writes under the header, "NCAA Too Reluctant To Give Student-Athletes A Voice And A Vote." The "pay-for-play crowd is not going to win the day here -- not this year, and perhaps not ever." But there is "a willingness to at least give a little more to the labor force." Maybe that willingness "will even carry over to giving up a little decision-making power as well" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/17).