Posted on: February 14, 2012 5:38 pm

NCAA considers using private investigators

INDIANAPOLIS -- NCAA enforcement may be going private – at least private investigator.

As the NCAA’s most feared division reinvents itself, that little nugget emerged during my recent conversation with enforcement director Julie Roe Lach. She has been with the NCAA for 14 years. But it was the last 12 months or so that have been the most challenging, with seemingly a scandal a week.

“It was constant,” she said

As part of a new streamlined approach, the NCAA might indeed use private investigators on a contract basis to observe subjects.

“Literally, if they could mobilize someone in a matter of hours as opposed to us putting someone on a plane it’s a timeliness issue,” Roe Lach said. “That, to me, is where we need to stay ahead of the curve.”

Proactive is a term seldom attached to the enforcement division. Last year’s test of the association’s ability to police itself comes at the same time the NCAA is trying to downsize its 436-page manual.

The NCAA has become more open, more accessible, more understandable. Last year, Roe Lach’s department conducted an all-day Enforcement Experience exercise for media. The idea is to communicate that enforcement is going to be more efficient, more streamlined.

“Are people going to expect that more is going to be permissible? …,” said Roe Lach, 35. “Should we publish a list of all the schools we’re investigating? I don’t know if we’re going there.”

The NCAA last week released a set of proposed enhanced penalties that could be in effect later this year.’s Bryan Fischer first published a version of those documents on Jan. 15.

As a part of that, Roe Lach said her division may begin contracting with private investigators for selected surveillance missions. Jim Rockford used to charge $200 a day plus expenses. Will the NCAA go there in hiring out investigative contractors?

“We could. Our bylaws don’t preclude it,” Roe Lach said. “We’d have to be very careful how we do it.”

As long as the NCAA gets it right. With only 55 persons in enforcement – 30-something on the street – enforcement can never catch all the outlaws. But told her department needed more vigilance in football, the NCAA hired former homicide Bill Benjamin to head a new football enforcement division

“If we get wind that a booster is employing student-athletes or an agent is too connected we’ll just go and watch foot traffic,” Roe Lach said. “It’s not like we’re out there stalking people.

“We’ve definitely conducted surveillance recently. Is it a better use of our resources to contract out surveillance?”

We’ll see.


Here’s a quick Q&A with Lach … The NCAA seems to be more open under president Mark Emmert. To the point that Cam Newton’s father was called out, the media is engaged on subjects and enforcement is more of a transparent process.

Roe Lach: “Probably because I think that’s President Emmert’s philosophy. First, the challenge is to take an honest look at where can we have more transparency. We also recognize there are some times we can’t be transparent about either because federal law says so or there is a greater interest at stake.

“I don’t think the default is no longer, ‘We can’t say anything.’ “ Talking to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he agreed whole-heartedly with the intent of the Penn State letter  to possibly investigate the school in light of the Sandusky matter. Where is your department on that right now?

Roe Lach: “Right now, and I can say this because it’s been stated publicly, the Penn State letter was framed very specifically as from the president’s office. It’s really at an inquiry or information gathering stage and if the NCAA should take some sort of action. If the answer is yes … the next question is how?

“Is this an enforcement action or is there some other action that doesn’t currently exist that needs to be examined?” Was there a border crossed there? The Sandusky case is a legal matter.

Roe Lach: “Historically, legal matters are dealt with through the criminal system … There are times when criminal action also violates NCAA rules. There was a Division II case where a coach was providing a prescription drugs to student-athlete. I don’t know if that is legal.” But even that is different from the Sandusky case.

Roe Lach: “You’re right. Typically, criminal issues are separate from NCAA issues but not always. Especially on the gambling front. That’s why we try to have relationships with  the FBI and other agencies.

“The larger issue at play … is what’s the culture here going on in the athletics department? Does that somehow tie into how the athletic department exercises institutional control? President Emmert’s letter opened the door for that discussion.” Does that mean every similar case like that is going to end up on your desk?

Roe Lach: “I don’t think so. The larger issue is, do you have NCAA violations that may not be as clear? But you could make the argument that those are part of the culture that undermines institutional control. That the athletic department is not really being controlled by the school.” Couldn’t you just wait for the courts to play out?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes that’s what we have to do … It’s not necessarily a wait-and-see approach either.” There has been an addition of a director of enforcement for football, Bill Benjamin. What does that entail?

Roe Lach: “I was with the head football coaches (at the coaches’ convention) … We had heard from them, ‘Hey, here are our concerns [about enforcement].’ … That helped really to support the move to move staff to football.

“Part of their push to us has been we need to increase the penalties for secondary violations and suspend some coaches. They’ve also met with the Committee on Infractions and want to ramp up the penalties on football cases.

“To me that’s the first time a coaches’ association has stepped forward and said, ‘We want you to do more to us.’ “ Dr. Emmert told me in November in the middle of the investigation that Miami had been ‘extraordinarily cooperative.’ That’s the first time I’d heard anyone from the NCAA say anything like that in the middle of an NCAA investigation. Your reaction.

Roe Lach: “We don’t typically comment on cooperation but this goes back to the other discussion. That’s not a confidential issue. In the past we probably took a conservative approach. If a school is really stepping up and cooperating and taking some heat … sometimes it helps for them to be recognized by us.” Does that make things uncomfortable if, in the end, Miami gets hammered?

Roe Lach: “I’ve been in hearing rooms where we’ve said, ‘This is an extremely serious case – if not the most – close to it [but] the school did everything within their control once they found out about these serious violations …

“The appeals committee message has been: You need to give some credit in the penalty phase … You need to factor that his. Where the committee has tried to land is, there is an obligation of cooperation. You shouldn’t get credit for doing what you’re supposed to do. There is a philosophical disagreement about that within the membership.” How is the shrinking of the manual coming?

Roe Lach: “Sometimes you feel like it’s two steps forward, one step back. Right when you think you’ve got a ground-breaking idea … then 10 more unanswered questions pop up. It’s so hard for people to get their arms around less regulation and how does that affect coaches and schools.” Can this year be better than 2012? Perhaps less work?

Roe Lach: “We’re just trying to continue our progress in terms of knowing what’s going on. If people are breaking the rules, we’re upholding integrity by enforcing them.”

Posted on: February 14, 2012 4:25 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 5:48 pm

Karl Benson expected to become new Sun Belt boss

WAC commissioner Karl Benson is expected to take the same position with the Sun Belt Conference, has learned.

Benson, 60, has been in his current position since 1994. The recent instability of the league may have led to his decision to pursue the Sun Belt job. Current Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters is retiring later this year.

A formal announcement on Benson is expected Thursday. 

Under Benson's watch both Boise State and Hawaii played in BCS bowls since 2007. But conference realignment has cost him both of those schools. The WAC currently consists of eight schools in 2012. However, Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State are leaving for what will be the new Mountain West/Conference USA conglomerate in 2013.

In the late 1990s, Benson oversaw the first super conference when the WAC expanded to 16 teams. The arrangement quickly became too unwieldy. In 1999, eight schools broke off to form the Mountain West.

Benson is a proud former shortstop at Boise State. He is expected to take office at the New Orleans-based Sun Belt on April 1, the week the city is hosting the Final Four. 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:05 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:30 pm

Big 12 schedule released -- finally

It was the most anticipated schedule since Elvis’ coat went on tour

The Big 12 finally released its 2012 football schedule on Tuesday – most of it, at least – to the relief of schools and scores of sportswriters. Don’t forget the fans. They’re they ones who apparently crashed West Virginia’s website briefly on Tuesday.

The primary news was the school finally extricating itself legally from the Big East. Call it the legal version of all those switchbacks in the state’s noted mountain landscape. The delay built anticipation. The schedule release itself could have been sold as a prime-time event.

(I just put an idea into a marketer’s mind somewhere but moving on …) To put Tuesday’s developments in perspective, the Pac-12 and SEC released their schedules in late December and early January. The delay also means it's a sellers’ market, if you’re a football bottom feeder willing to yourself to the highest bidder. There is talk of I-AA schools (FBS) with openings on their schedule getting $800,000-$1 million to come get their butts beat by a BCS school.

Either the Big 12 or Big East was going to get screwed by where West Virginia ended up. Turns out it’s the Big East – although $20 million richer – that is looking for an extra non-conference game for its teams now that the Mountaineers have left. That could change if somehow Boise State is able to get to the Big East in 2012

That’s why the simple release of a football schedule became an economic mystery.

Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas promised a Feb. 1 deadline. It came and went with only TV partners getting a copy. Somehow Texas Tech’s schedule slipped out early on Friday. Apparently forgotten was the fact there are people – some call them fans – trying to schedule and budget in order to see some of those Big 12 games. They will do so knowing that Oklahoma still had two holes in its schedule, although there are indications contracts could be signed shortly.

In a weird piece of realignment fallout, West Virginia paid the Big East that $20 million for the right to go to Ames, Iowa. That’s another way of saying that Iowa State is the Mountaineers’ closest opponent now that it is in the 10-team Big 12.

“We had a great legal team,” said Oliver Luck, West Virginia’s AD.

Hooray for that. Courtroom prowess replaced proximity in the mad realignment dash long ago. The Big East and whatever Conference USA/Mountain West calls itself in the future are spread coast to coast. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds continues to work on Notre Dame forming some kind of non-football alliance with the Big 12. Never mind that the closest Big 12 school for the Irish is two states away.

Louisville desperately wants into the Big 12. BYU still might be a possibility in the future. The Big 12 could get to 11 easily in 2013. The problem is finding a 12th team that is a good fit. So Tuesday’s announcement is one of those clip-and-save moments. It’s a 10-team Big 12 for now. There are still some holes in the schedule but at least we have a working model.

Back in November Big 12 officials flew out to Morgantown for a reception welcoming the Mountaineers as a replacement for Texas A&M or Missouri. Not sure which. It doesn’t matter. TCU is also in after a slightly shorter dalliance itself with the Big East.

Point is, the unification of Big East defector and the Pure Prairie League didn’t become reality until Tuesday. Time for another reception?

“As you may be aware the Big 12 is a very stable conference,” Luck added.

 We’re not but that’s not the point right now.


The highlights …

--The “new” Big 12 kicks off Sept. 15 with TCU playing its first Big 12 game at Kansas.

--Each team will have a double-bye, the function of 12 games being played in a 14-week college football calendar in 2012.

 --The first beer served in a Big 12 game since Colorado was a member will be Sept. 29 when Baylor visits for West Virginia’s conference opener. We’ll let that issue breath a bit as you consider alcohol-serving state school vs. Baptist flagship.

For now, call it the Lawsuit Bowl. Five months ago Baylor was threatening to sue the SEC over its “poaching” of Texas A&M. West Virginia had sued the Big East to get out of the conference (and were sued right back).

 --Eight of the 10 teams will be in action on the last day of the season (Dec. 1). That’s a brilliant piece of scheduling making it more likely that the Big 12 title will be in play the same weekend as the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten play conference title games.

Last year, Oklahoma State clinched the title on the last day of the season against Oklahoma. Robert Griffin III more or  less clinched the Heisman Trophy on the same day after beating Texas.

--The conference's showcase game -- the Red River Shootout -- is Oct. 13 the week after Oklahoma plays at Texas Tech and Texas hosts West Virginia.

 In case you’re counting this is the third different lineup for the Big 12 in three years.  This time it just might work – at least until Notre Dame says yes. Just don’t put a deadline on it.  

Posted on: February 13, 2012 1:21 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 1:25 pm

My preseason top 25 applied to postseason models

You've got to start somewhere in shaping a new postseason model. Using this humble correspondent's preseason top 25 posted Monday as a template, here are a few possibilties. All of them are among the 50 or so discussed last month in New Orleans.

A seeded Plus One on campus (The Delany Model. Top-four rated teams meet in national semifinals):

No. 4 Oregon at No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 2 USC.

Winners meet this season in the Orange Bowl based on the BCS rotation.

A Plus One in the bowls Oregon vs. LSU in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma vs. USC in the Sugar Bowl. Winners meet in the Orange Bowl.

An unseeded Plus One (Playing a championship game after the bowls. In this model, all six BCS league champions guaranteed a berth. No. 7 Arkansas and No. 9 Georgia are left out. Unranked Rutgers is in as Big East champion. A human committee and/or rankings determine the top two teams after the bowls):

Rose Bowl: USC* vs. Wisconsin*

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma* vs. Oregon

Sugar Bowl: LSU* vs. Clemson*

Orange Bowl:  Rutgers* vs. Alabama

*-conference champs

Two highest-ranked teams after the bowls meet for the national championship. Championship game location TBA.

No automatic qualifiers (No. 1 vs. No. 2 meet in the championship game. Four other major bowls are populated by the remaining teams in the top 10. Ohio State not eligible. In this scenario, five SEC teams are included. Big East and ACC not represented because no teams are ranked in top 10.)

BCS title game (Orange Bowl): LSU vs. USC

Rose: Oregon vs. Wisconsin

Sugar: Alabama vs. West Virginia

Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. South Carolina

Cotton: Georgia vs. Arkansas

Are there any other postseason models? Probably. For now, this is your lump of Play-Doh to shape.


Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:17 pm

Wisconsin's Alvarez endorses Plus One

Calling out the SEC is all the rage in the Big Ten at the moment.

I wrote Thursday that one of the Big Ten’s intents in supporting a Plus One was to get the SEC to come up North to play national semifinals. Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez put it in writing in the latest issue of “Varsity”, Wisconsin’s official online magazine.

In his “Behind The Desk” column, Alvarez wrote, “ … I applaud the Big Ten and commissioner Jim Delany for advancing the discussion.” He called national semifinals played on campus sites, “ … one way of leveling the playing field a little bit.

“I’ve felt that SEC teams have had an advantage because of the number of bowls that have been played in their backyard. What would they think about leaving the South and playing in the Midwest?”

It’s an open-ended question but Alvarez goes on to say the Rose Bowl and regular season must be preserved. He uses the example of Duke’s loss to Miami this week having little impact on the big tournament picture.  Football is a different animal (badger, actually).

“I’m definitely intrigued by the proposal to seed four teams and play two semifinal games on campus sites,” Alvarez wrote.

The fact that administrators are coming out of the woodwork to support Plus One has to tell you something is going to happen. I’m still not sure it will go as far as a playoff. Arizona State president Michael Crow probably put forth the most radical proposal yet. -- an eight-team playoff.

It is interesting to note that in Crow’s playoff, only conference champions would be eligible. That would mean no Alabama in 2011. That also might require a phone call to Pasadena. Where would the Rose Bowl in an eight-team playoff?

Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:39 pm

Big East-to-West moves forward sluggishly

When the ACC raided the Big East once again in September, the stated intention of the fractured league was to remain a BCS conference. Or whatever the definition of a big time conference was going to be in 2014.

That’s the year when everything changes. College football’s postseason is going to be adjusted, making it less about what league you’re in and more about what your league is worth. Right now, the reconstituted Big East is attempting to rebuild its worth before increasing it.

And that’s the tragedy that overshadowed this week’s announcement that Memphis was joining the league in 2013. A few months ago Big East turned down a massive $1 billion offer from ESPN, hoping for something better. Sounds laughable now, doesn’t it? Memphis is in the league for the same reason West Virginia is suing to get out of it.

"The Big East and its Commissioner failed to take proactive measures to maintain, let alone enhance, the level of competition for the Big East football schools,” West Virginia’s lawsuit against the Big East reads.

Remember, this is a football discussion. While Big East basketball remains powerful, it is the economics of TV that football still drives these contracts. By far. Then throw in the fact that college basketball on television is becoming oversaturated. Football is going to have to carry the new Big East when formal negotiations begin later this year.

Things have changed a lot in six months. Commissioner John Marinatto has gambled and won in the sense that is league is still a league. He has lost in that a TV windfall along the lines of $1 billion look less likely. That was the amount ESPN offered last year (for nine years) to broadcast the Big East.

That was before the ACC struck and West Virginia left. Since then, Marinatto’s league has been reduced to selling the Big East brand to the likes of San Diego State more than selling Big East football.  Memphis is marginally better off, I suppose, than in Conference USA. Still, the jokes about Boise State being in the Big East West Division haven’t died down. It’s a great week for Memphis but in the end the school was nothing more than a live body willing fill out the lineup.

And that lineup for 2013 looks more like Conference USA. In about 2005. In fact, the projected 2013 Big East roster includes seven former Conference USA schools.

Back in the mid-2000s the Conference USA football deal was worth about $9 million per year. The current Big East deal, due to run out in 2014, is worth about $35 million per year for what in 2011 was eight teams.

That’s after the league turned down that $1 billion offer last year. Think an average of $111 million per year would have kept the 21-year old football conference together? It certainly would have kept the Big East on ESPN which all that matters these days as conferences morph into content farms for TV. Now there is speculation that the Worldwide Leader, upset at being rejected, could lowball the Big East  when its deal expires after 2013-14. Or drop out all together.

One industry analyst texted me saying the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC alone  will worth more than a new Big East deal in 2014. The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will mean a $1 million-$2 million bump per year for ACC members. In a matter of a whirlwind few months, the Big East’s hopes for a lucrative TV contract now rest with Boise State, Connecticut, Houston and Rutgers.

Those are the four most attractive Big East schools to TV, according to the analyst.

CBS Sports Network may be interested in the new Big East-to-West Conference. The same goes for the NBC/Comcast. Its new NBC Sports Network needs programming. But don’t expect a bidding war. That’s what has driven up the price of college football in the past decade – the public’s insatiable desire for more of it. But even during that gold rush there has been a clear dividing line – thank you, BCS – between the haves and have nots.

The Big East-to-West TV carrier(s) may pay a lot more than $35 million, but it/they won’t overpay. The point is not to lose money on a diminished football league, especially with the Big 12 out there for grabs in 2015.

No matter what the outcome, the Big East is going to be something like the sixth-richest conference, just like it was in the last round of negotiations.  The same market forces still apply. The Big East has been in the BCS only because of a waiver granted in 2007. The latest BCS contract expires in a couple of years, coincidentally at about the same time as the Big East’s TV contract.

Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese always said there should be a major college football presence in the Northeast. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Not in one conference. The league always claimed New York in its TV footprint. But with Syracuse leaving and San Diego, Boise, Houston and Memphis coming in, how much longer can Big East football be a big presence in the <>East<> much less nationwide?


Posted on: February 6, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 6:05 pm

Big 10 "kicking around" idea of Plus One

Maybe it’s the declining interest in college football for the first time in years.

Although a BCS official said it wasn’t.

Maybe it’s the unrest regarding the BCS system.

Although the system has been defended vigorously – by the BCS.

Or maybe it’s just time.

The Big Ten – the Leaders and Legends themselves – have taken a significant step in adjusting the sport’s postseason beginning in 2014. The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the Big Ten is “kicking around” the idea of a four-team playoff with the semifinals played on campus sites. 

While the idea of a Plus One is nothing new – it has been mentioned prominently as a replacement for the BCS – the Big Ten’s apparent increased interest is intriguing.

The Tribune quoted Northwestern AD Jim Phillips as saying, “The Big Ten is open and curious.”

Since spring 2008, various administrators from four of the six BCS leagues (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12) have supported a Plus One. Most recently, ADs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 supported a Plus One in a straw poll in August.

The BCS pays out $180 million to participants per year. One powerful BCS AD indicated that a Plus One would be worth significantly more than double that amount. The 11 FBS commissioners next meet to discuss the issue later this month in Dallas. No final decision is expected. Significant progress is expected to be made in late April during the annual BCS meeting, this year in South Florida.

“I think sports fans are conditioned to playoffs,” Delany told the Tribune. “I don’t begrudge them that. They’re looking for more games, but we’re trying to do the right thing.”

The Big Ten Plan – what else you going to call it? – involves having the semis played on the campus of the higher-seeded team. This past season that would have meant Stanford playing at LSU and Oklahoma State playing at Alabama. The problem, as you may have noticed, is that in 2011 a Plus One would have included Stanford from the Pac-12 but not the Pac-12 champion, Oregon.

Right now, that may be a mere detail. The Big Ten is seemingly onboard in light of recent lower attendance numbers and TV ratings.  Regular-season attendance declined, if only slightly, for the second time in three years. Average bowl attendance hit a 33-year low this season. Overall BCS bowl ratings were down 10 percent from the 2011 bowls and  down 21 percent from when Fox last had the contract in 2009.

The 13.8 rating from the LSU-Alabama game was down 14 percent from last year's Auburn-Oregon game and down 24 percent from the Alabama-Texas game two years ago. BCS executive director Bill Hancock cautioned last month to reacting too early to attendance and TV ratings.

But perhaps a convergence of all those factors is now forcing change. If a Plus One is adopted expect more games grouped around the traditional Jan. 1 date. ADs and presidents are not only concerned about ratings and attendance but about second-semester football. The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee is particularly concerned about the BCS bowls being played further and further away from Jan. 1. There have been several times when teams had to get back from those games just in time for the second semester or the second semester had already begun after a BCS bowl.

“We had two experiences where we had to fly back the night of the game,” Ohio State AD Gene Smith said of two recent national championship games. “We played Florida [2007 in Glendale, Ariz.] and flew back right after the game. I remember stopping at the In-N-Out Burger. Our kids had to go to school the next day.

“We can’t do that, we can’t.”

The chairman of that BCS oversight group, Tulane president Scott Cowen, said the sport must proceed carefully.

“Two-thousand eleven was not a great year for intercollegiate athletics in America,” Cowen told “I think all university presidents want to find more ways that we can cooperate and repair intercollegiate athletics.”

At least 50 different postseason plans were exchanged among the FBS commissioners Jan. 10 in New Orleans. There was no consensus but it is clear powerful people are getting used to the idea of a four-team playoff. NCAA president Mark Emmert has said on multiple occasions that there would be some interest in what he termed a football “Final Four”. SEC commissioner Mike Slive as well as Delany have been quoted as warming up to the idea.

If semis are played on campus sites then that could mean the championship game could be bid on. With the Cotton Bowl played in Cowboys Stadium, waiting on the doorstep to join the BCS that could be a huge step. One touchy issue for current BCS bowls is the preference to stay in the current four-year rotation for the championship game because of concerns about retaining sponsorships.

The Big Ten would have to consider the impact on the Rose Bowl. If one or more of the bowl's partners – Big Ten and Pac-12 – were in the playoff, how would that affect the Rose? The conferences and Rose Bowl are already uncomfortable with losing teams to the BCS championship game.  

The current deal with ESPN expires after the 2013 regular season/2014 BCS bowls. BCS commissioners are expected to have a new model for consideration by presidents by summer. 

Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:40 pm

Emmert contacts DI CEOs on scholarship issue

NCAA president Mark Emmert has reached out to Division I presidents urging them to support what is becoming the controversial implementation of four-year scholarships.

In a document obtained by, Emmert asks the presidents to defeat the override proposal on legislation that is allowing four-year scholarships for athletes. Previously, scholarships had been renewed annually, sometimes at the whim of a coach. The four-year measure was approved in October, but 82 schools subsequently signed an override petition.  

“It [override] will take away the opportunity for multi-year support for thousands of student-athletes,” Emmert wrote in the letter. “As we are a presidentially led Association, it is important that you direct what the vote of your institution will be. I encourage you to defeat the override of this proposal.”

Presidents can vote online next week beginning Feb. 13 through 5 pm ET on Feb. 17.   

The petition required the NCAA board of directors to reconsider. It will take 222 schools out of 355 in Division I to override the measure. Last week various reports stated that the majority of Big Ten schools support the measure, which was encouraged by commissioner Jim Delany. According to those reports at least eight of the conference’s 12 schools awarded four-year scholarships on National Signing Day.

“You’re going to graduate,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week. “We have that obligation.”

The rest of the 120 schools in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) are split at best on the issue based on an informal canvassing of the division’s 11 conferences.  SEC commissioner Mike Slive supported the measure as early as July as part of a national reform agenda. Auburn went on record last week as saying it awarded four-year scholarships to its latest recruiting class.

If FBS is split, that suggests that approximately 70 percent of the remaining 235 Division I schools (approximately 162) are going to vote for the override in order to defeat the measure.

If the proposal survives, four-year scholarships would still be optional only for each school. The one-year renewable scholarship has been in effect since 1973. Since then coaches have been able to “cut” athletes for sub-standard performance on the field. The existing proposal would still allow scholarships to be revoked year-to-year due to academic or off-field issues.

Even then, there could be subjective issues defining off-field conduct.

“I’d be surprised, frankly, if it’s overridden,” said Chad Hawley, the Big Ten’s associate commissioner for compliance. “The proposal come out of a working group on student-athlete welfare. Nationally there seems to be a commitment to keeping it in play. I’d be more surprised than not if it went away.”

Supporters are worried about the practice “running off” players who do not fit when a new coach takes over. Critics have said the measure pits large, well-funded athletic departments against smaller schools. The Associated Press reported that Boise State said in its override request that four-year scholarships would be a “recruiting disaster.”

"There is never a guarantee that the incoming student-athlete will be a good fit for the program and the institution," the school stated. "If it is a poor fit, the program is put in a difficult situation to continue to keep a student-athlete on scholarship."

Last month, the board delayed implementation of the annual $2,000 player stipend. It asked that the working group to come back with a modified proposal by April. Even if a new proposal gets through in April, it would have to survive a 60-day comment period. During that time there would be a second chance to override.

Both actions (stipend/scholarships) came out of an August presidential summit in Indianapolis. Critics attacked the stipend for being implemented too soon. Also, there was a concern about affordability, especially for some schools outside of BCS conferences.

The heading of Emmert’s letter states: “Subject: Student-Athlete Well Being” It goes on to state, “ … I need you to participate in the vote. I encourage you to defeat the override of the proposal that will allow student-athletes to receive multi-year scholarships.”

Category: NCAAF
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