University of South Carolina President Harry Pastides went public with an Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribune [story link] saying that the NCAA will vote on Thursday to endorse a new structure that will “address many student-athlete concerns.” Pastides notes that this vote will take place one day before the Northwestern players vote whether to unionize.
First, we will give greater autonomy to the higher-resourced conferences. These universities will be able to independently determine at what level they can provide resources to benefit students in the following ways:
•Cover the full cost of attendance by providing a stipend for incidental expenses.
•Provide better academic and career counseling.
•Insure student-athletes against career-ending injuries.
•Improve medical monitoring during their playing days.
•Enable student-athletes to finish their degrees even after their playing days are over.
•Provide enhanced well-being benefits including meals and nutrition.
The “full cost of attendance” debate has been around for a while and it now looks like it will finally come to fruition. This could very well splinter what is now the FBS and that’s what looks like what will happen based on the weighted voting that Pastides lays out in the article.
The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee chair, an athletics director who will chair a new group tentatively called the Council, a faculty athletics representative and a senior woman administrator will each get one vote on the Division I Board of Directors. This will be the first time their voices will be heard alongside university presidents who serve on the division’s highest body.
Our plan is to allow weighted voting on the Council, the group charged with making rule changes for the division. No group will have a majority. Five conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC — will each receive four votes or 38.7 percent. The Division I Football Bowl Subdivision will be split in two with five conferences — the American, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt — each receiving two votes or 19.4 percent. The remaining 22 conferences will have one vote each totaling 38.7 percent. One commissioner from each of the two FBS groups and two commissioners from the remaining 22 conferences will also have votes and are represented within these percentages.
Most important, two student-athletes will vote on the Council, with their votes each counting once.
These efforts have been in the works for some time but have not materialized fast enough to stave off the challenges identified by student-athletes. Their concerns deserve to be heard and the NCAA is the appropriate place for them to be addressed.
With the possibility of Unionization breathing down the NCAA’s neck (and it’s important to note that many players have publicly questioned whether a Union is the right way to go), it looks like they are finally making a move for progress.
This will be a very important week for the NCAA with this “initial vote” on Thursday, followed by the Northwestern vote on Friday. Change has been in the air for a while, now it will be interesting to sit back and watch this unfold.