The NCAA announced Thursday that the Division I Board of Directors had given its endorsement to a new governance system up for formal approval in August.
As part of the new governance system, the five power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) would be given the freedom to "address their unique challenges" and the "autonomy to make rules on specific matters affecting the interests of student-athletes."
What could those matters be? Here it is, straight from the NCAA:
• financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;
• insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;
• academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and
• other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).
In other words, it's many of the topics that have been discussed at length recently when it comes to the relationship between a university and its athletes. Plus, many of them are key points in the debate surrounding the efforts of Northwestern players to form a union.
Coincidentally (or not), players at Northwestern vote on the union issue Friday. Northwestern, as you know, is in the Big Ten.
As the most powerful members of the NCAA, the move placates the five conferences and seems to quell the doomsday scenarios that included the five behemoths forming their own organization separate from the NCAA.
It also increases the divide between the schools in those conferences and the schools outside of them. While a player in the WAC is still under the same NCAA umbrella as a player in the SEC, the athlete in the SEC could be entitled to benefits and perks that the athlete in the same sport in the WAC would not be allowed to have under a new governance structure.
According to the NCAA's release "The steering committee is seeking more feedback on the how the remaining 27 conferences would want to apply decisions made by the 65 schools in the five highest-profile conferences."
The top tier may not be the only tier, either. The NCAA also said that the board is looking into how the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt would be tiered as well. If separated into their own group, those five conferences – the other five FBS football conferences – would be slotted below the other five conferences and ahead of the 22 non-FBS football conferences.
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