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South Carolina president says if reform fails, "next step" would be end of amateurism"

DESTIN, Fla. – Right now, Harris Pastides is one of the most powerful seven people in college sports. But you probably wouldn't notice him if he walked down the hall of a resort hotel.

That's exactly what Pastides, the South Carolina president, did Thursday stopping for a few minutes to speak to reporters at the SEC spring meetings. As part of that seven-member NCAA Governance Steering Committee he is helping shape the future of college sports.

The steering committee is responsible for developing the definition of how the Big Five conferences (Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac-12) will get voting autonomy.

The committee represents a fraction of the NCAA board of directors which is expected to ratify autonomy in August.

“I think we're holding the fort,” Pastides said. “If we allow this reform to fail, the obvious next step would be to give up amateurism.”

Instead, there is a redefinition of amateurism. It is a world where athletes will have more food, money, medical care and rights. But before any of that happens, there is one final hurdle.

The steering committee has recommended a super majority model (two-thirds approval) for the Big Five to pass legislation. The conferences have countered with a threshold of approximately 60 percent.

According to sources, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Big Ten commissioner Mike Slive in particular have made it known that a super majority is a deal breaker. And the commissioners have the ultimate hammer. Those 65 schools could break away from the NCAA on their own and form their own division.

“The bar ought to be – I'll use the word – high,” Pastides said. “It shouldn't be easy. It shouldn't be 51 percent. Having said that, it can't be 95 percent.

“If I see something like two-thirds [in a vote] I'll know there are some disagreements there. If I'm seeing two-thirds, three-quarters, if I'm seeing 80 percent, I'm feeling, ‘That's 80 percent of my colleagues.' “

That statement was made <>before<> headed for a meeting of the conference's CEOs, supposedly where Slive would make his views known.

Pastides on other subjects:

--The glut of lawsuits facing the NCAA and Big Five: “We get briefed on it all the time. But we were way before this [with reform]. It's been around for years. I don't get a sense that this current move toward reform and policy change is not a direct result.”

--Separation by the Big Five: “That's exactly what people not in the Big Five are worried about now. A Division IV would be further license to create all sorts of rules and paradigms that would further separate [the haves from the have nots].”

--Jadeveon Clowney: “Mr. Clowney has said he's going to finish his degree. We're going to work with him on that. There are some online opportunities. In the right time, that's very important to us.”

Pastides, 60, is a Queens, N.Y. native who is nearing his sixth year as South Carolina president.

Autonomy is currently in a comment period while conferences conduct spring meetings. The steering committee will reconvene to consider that input before forwarding a model to the full board in August.

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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