Substantial changes coming to NCAA landscape

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Over the past week, conference commissioners from the big five conferences – SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC – have all rattled Mark Emmert’s cage regarding fundamental, yet seismic, changes they want in the NCAA.

Emmert has been listening and thinking, too, it seems.

Related: NCAA bans Twitter hashtags on the field

He’s called a summit to discuss changes to Division 1 policy in January, and he discussed it in an exclusive interview with the Indianapolis Star. Usually defensive, Emmert wasn’t taken aback with the comments by the commissioners and even saw them as beneficial.

“I didn’t take issue with any of the general statements that were made by the commissioners,” Emmert said Thursday. “I thought they were helpful and good contributions to the debate.

“There’s one thing that virtually everybody in Division I has in common right now, and that is they don’t like the governance model. Now, there’s not agreement on what the new model should be. But there’s very little support for continuing things in the governing process the way they are today.”

Emmert agreed that drastic changes are ahead, and they are going to be swift and all-compassing, not just incremental.

“There’s no one talking about this being some incremental change. I think there’s an interest in some pretty fundamental change in the way decisions are made, both to accommodate those (financial) differences but also to deal with concerns people have about representation.”

The big picture prompter of change is the unevenness of playing field between major and lesser college revenue generators. As Emmert discussed, there’s a big need to recognize the difference between schools with $5 million athletic budgets and $155 million budgets.

One of the biggest individual proponents fueling the change is the player stipend, which has been a major issue over the last few years. Stipend amounts between $2,000 and $5,000 have been discussed, in addition to room, board, books and tuition fees.

What the landscape will look like

The long-time threat of schools breaking away from the NCAA is becoming more of an unlikely scenario. The new division – some are calling the Division 4 – will be under the NCAA’s umbrella. If it was not, the new organization would have to hire its own governance and create its own rulebook, among many other things, meaning it would be a ton of work. So, why not just create it under the existing umbrella?

All bets are off as to what exactly it will look like. So, we’re looking into a crystal ball. But the Big 5 want more say, much better leadership and greater flexibility to pass whatever legislation they want, and they’re going to get it in some alternative division like the Division 4.

Just a hypothetical example: If the Division 4 teams want to give athletes new cars, and a lesser conference can’t afford them, the rule will pass and the lesser conference won’t have to implement it.

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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