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Document details effort for autonomy among power conferences

Pac-12 commish Larry Scott on louder voice for big conferences:
Pac-12 commish Larry Scott on louder voice for big conferences: "I think we're going to get there." (USATSI)

CBSSports.com has obtained a document detailing NCAA rules the power conferences would seek to change or amend in upcoming governance discussions.

The broad outline more formally recognizes those five conferences' desire to adjust rules dealing with agent contact, limits on coaching staff size and scholarship renewal.

According to sources, the document was distributed to college leaders by Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, chair of the NCAA Steering Committee for Governance. That committee is overseeing the autonomy discussion among those five conferences – Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, ACC and Big Ten.

“I think what was reflected in that memo is a growing consensus,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “I think we're going to get there.”

Among the topics addressed in what is labeled an “Attachment to Memorandum”:

-- A lifetime opportunity fund that would allow former players to complete their education after leaving school. It would benefit players who depart early for the draft or who don't graduate after their eligibility expires.

This point was mentioned specifically by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany last summer.

-- Provide full cost of attendance to players. This long-discussed topic seems to a certainty in the future. Players would be given a prescribed amount extra in living expenses based on the cost of living in the particular college town.

-- Redefine rules governing agents. That's a preference of SEC commissioner Mike Slive. While Slive hasn't been specific about what those changes would be, assume that new rules would allow more contact with agents while players are in school.

Slive often uses the example of students in other majors having access to experts in that field. Why shouldn't an athlete be given the same advantages of a concert pianist who consults with great composer?

-- Meet the healthy, safety and nutritional needs of players.

Those first four bullet items had been previously mentioned among the commissioners.

New to the memorandum are these points the commissioners may want to change “if future circumstances warrant revision." …

-- Addressing scholarships that are reduced, cancelled or not renewed at the whim of a coach. Coaches have been criticized for promising a full-ride in recruiting then have the power to cancel scholarships on a year-to-year basis.

In 1973, the NCAA went from four-year scholarships to one-year renewable scholarships.

-- Provide paid transportation for parents for official recruiting visits to championship events. (College Football Playoff, NCAA Tournament, bowls etc.)

-- Rescinding rules that inhibit a player's desire to pursue a non-athletic career. A Minnesota wrestler was declared ineligible last year because he posted music videos of himself online. NCAA rules prohibit a player from using his name or image for commercial use.

That rule seems to going away one way or another. Players' rights to their image and likeness are at the heart of the O'Bannon lawsuit.

-- Permit schools or players to get loans regarding “career-related” insurance.

-- Policies regarding athletes' time demands. Northwestern players were allowed to unionize, in part, because a National Labor Relations Board official concluded that players do devote at least 40 hours per week to their sport.

-- More flexible transfer rules.

At the January NCAA Convention, 70 percent of those at a governance dialogue voting in a straw poll were not against the five conferences gaining voting power in the legislative process.

"I've been impressed with the degree of alignment throughout Division I for allowing autonomy," Scott said. “There is a recognition that has evolved for schools that have more resources up to the cost of attendance."

The commissioners of those leagues began publicly lobbying last summer for voting autonomy. They want rules that fit the high-end stakeholders in college football and basketball (their schools). They also seek enhanced student-athlete welfare.

Last week, that steering committee advocated the addition of an AD, an athlete and faculty-athletic representative in the new governance system. Those new additions would have voting power and be part of a new legislative group called the "The Council." As a whole, The Council would be made up of reps from the 32 Division I conferences and two athletes.

The 34 members would have votes, but those votes would be weighted. The five power conferences would have 37 percent of the vote. No Division I entity would have a majority of the vote.

Several big five ADs and commissioners have advocated more representation at the decision-making level.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
 
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