Knight Commission recommends further study of 'Division 4'

A study by the watchdog Knight Commission concluded Tuesday there is merit to a so-called NCAA "Division 4" for football based on financial criteria.

While not going as far to endorse such a move, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics is the most significant entity to date outside the NCAA membership to discuss the idea. In various manners, BCS commissioners had spent their media days last month endorsing such a move.

While no one has defined Division 4 specifically, it would basically be a group of schools playing college football at the highest level who call their own shots in legislative matter. To that point, the commission also said there is a "general loss of confidence in the NCAA governance process”. While that might be a “well, duh!" moment to some, the commission's conclusion gives further voice to the quickly eroding faith in the NCAA.

The commission conducted a survey of 50 higher education and college sports leaders determining there is “serious concern that the quest for revenue in Division I is undermining academic and institutional ideals." That's the general message the commission has been sending for the last two decades plus since it was formed.

At times, the commission’s message has fallen flat but these are unprecedented times for the NCAA. While the commission proposed not exactly sweeping changes this time, it did suggest adjustments that may be discussed as soon as Thursday when the NCAA governing bodies – executive committee and board of directors -- meet in Indianapolis. That meeting is expected to formally kick off a review of NCAA governance.

Spurred by complaints from BCS commissioners, NCAA president Mark Emmert has called what amounts to a summit in January at the NCAA Convention in San Diego. Tuesday’s commission memorandum went on to state escalating expenses of football was causing “extreme financial stress."

Among the commission's formal recommendations:

1. Alter the composition of the NCAA Executive Committee and Division I Board of Directors to include independent directors.

While a discussion about “new entities” to govern college football had little or no support, the commission did advocate outside participants in the NCAA’s governing bodies. Those participants would include commissioners, athletic directors and faculty.

 2. A portion of the FBS College Football Playoff revenues should reimburse the NCAA for services that enable college football to operate as a collegiate sport, and the funds should be used to directly support athletes' educational experiences.

After reading the memo a couple of times I’m still not sure what this means. The commissioners have money earmarked for academic achievement within the CFP. NCAA members pay dues which go to help running the association. That includes the NCAA’s administrative and operational expenses.

Maybe the commission is merely calling out the fact the CFP will be worth $7.2 billion over the length of the deal. Let’s just say the commissioners have plenty of money to throw around.

The best part of this bullet point is the commission calling FBS a “fragmented operation.”

3. Revise revenue distribution to ensure that academic incentives are appropriately embedded in the system. 

Concise language is not these guys' strongest points. More than 70 percent of the revenue in the CFP beginning in 2014 will go to the power conferences. The commissioners made it that way, beginning with the BCS, is so they wouldn't have to share the money with the have nots.

Embed that!  

Prominent ADs and commissioners have been complaining for months about a lack of inclusion in the process. The first meeting of the NCAA's AD Advisory Council last week included discussion on that topic. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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