Pac-12 presidents send letter asking other leagues to back reforms

Presidents in Larry Scott's Pac-12 are pushing for several reforms. (USATSI)
Presidents in Larry Scott's Pac-12 are pushing for several reforms. (USATSI)

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The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the presidents of Pac-12 schools have sent a joint letter to the 53 presidents of schools in the other four major FBS conferences, proposing they come together to back a set of sweeping NCAA reforms.

In addition to supporting the five major conferences' bid for autonomy within the NCAA's governance structure, the letter outlines 10 proposed changes to the current NCAA model, many of them similar to those supported by the College Athletes Player Association. The AP reports the letter was "spurred in part" by the move by former and current Northwestern football players to unionize under the CAPA banner.

The letter was delivered last week. Pac-12 presidents are asking for a response from the presidents of the other leagues by June 4. 

"It is clear from the recent statements of any number of individuals," the letter reads, "that while they may share our view that labor unions are not the answer, the time has come for a meaningful response both to the student-athletes' grievances and the need to reassert the academic primacy of our mission."

Among the reforms proposed are scholarships covering the full cost of attendance, which has gained widespread support among commissioners like the SEC's Mike Slive, the Big Ten's Jim Delany, and others; improved medical care for injured athletes; and guaranteed scholarships for students who remain in good academic standing.

The letter also raises the possibility of reinstituting the long-abandoned policy of freshmen ineligibility if the NBA's age limit continues to create "one and done" situations.

The news of the letter comes on the heels of two Congressmen sending a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert asking him some "two dozen questions" about the NCAA's involvement in "provid[ing] rigorous academic opportunities and instruction to its 'student-athletes'," USA Today reported late Monday.

"We acknowledge the core objectives could prove to be expensive and controversial, but the risks of inaction or moving too slowly are far greater," the Pac-12 presidents' letter reads. "The time for tinkering with the rules and making small adjustments is over."

The complete list of the proposals from the AP:

— Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance

— Provide reasonable ongoing medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition or practice. Continue efforts to reduce the incidence of disabling injury.

— Guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor's degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing.

— Decrease the demands placed on the athlete in-season, correspondingly increase the time available for studies and campus life, by preventing the abuse of organized "voluntary" practices to circumvent the limit of 20 hours per week and more realistically assess the time away from campus and other commitments during the season.

— Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices, and by considering shorter seasons in specific sports.

— Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate requirements for postseason play.

— Address the "one and done" phenomenon in men's basketball. If the NBA its Players Association are unable to agree to raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball.

— Provide student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and NCAA levels.

— Adjust existing restrictions so that student-athletes preparing for the next stage of their careers are not unnecessarily deprived of the advice and counsel of agents and other competent professionals, but without professionalizing intercollegiate athletics.

— Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.

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