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Presidents from Dartmouth and Delaware opposed autonomy for the 'power five' conferences

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NCAA President Mark Emmert gestures while speaking at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. The NCAA Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved a package of historic reforms Thursday that will give the nation's five biggest conferences the ability to unilaterally change some of the basic rules governing college sports. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Patrick T. Harker, the president of the University of Delaware and Philip J. Hanlon, the president of Dartmouth were the only two people to vote against giving legislative power to the five richest conferences — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.

The vote passed 16-2.

President Hanlon issue a statement regarding his vote saying that he worried that autonomy would not be in the best interest of college athletics and would create an even larger divide between the haves and the have-nots.

I voted no because I believe the proposed governance changes move in the direction of even greater spending and revenue growth in intercollegiate athletics and even greater disparity between the conferences. 

I worry these changes will further escalate the arms race in college sports which, in my opinion, is not in the best interest of intercollegiate athletics, or higher education more generally.
My vote should not take away from the fact that the process was thoughtful, deliberate and fair. The Steering Committee went out of its way to seek and consider feedback from all interested parties. The deliberations by the Division I Board were respectful and inclusive, and I had full opportunity to voice my views.
What was clear throughout the deliberations is that the many colleges and universities that make up Division I differ substantially in scale and mission. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are subsets of conferences within the Division that share unique interests. I am open to the idea that subsets of conferences with unique interests share autonomy in those interest areas, so long as these interests are aligned with the core values of the NCAA.
There are many positive aspects of the new governance model and the autonomy in certain areas that it provides to the five highly resourced conferences. Most notably, the new governance model will allow for greater support and resources flowing to student athletes in these conferences. It maintains championship access for all conferences and the current revenue distribution model. The new model rationalizes the roles of the Board and Council. All of these are good things.

Requests seeking comment from president Harker were not immediately returned.

Many might not be aware of the of the makeup of NCAA Board of Directors. Of the 18 members on the board, only five come from the power conferences — Gene Block, UCLA; Harris Pastides, South Carolina; Lou Anna Simon, Michigan State; Nathan Hatch, Wake Forest; Kirk Schulz, Kansas State.

While a lot of the autonomy discussion has been focused on football, three of the yes votes — Dianne F. Harrison, Cal State-Northridge; Horace Mitchell, Cal State-Bakersfield; David R. Hopkins, Wright State — preside over schools that don’t even offer football.

Here are the other members of the board:

David Leebron, Rice; E. Joseph Savoie, Louisiana-Lafayette; John C. Hitt, South Florida; Roderick McDavis, Ohio University; Stan Albrecht, Utah State; Baker Pattillo, Stephen F. Austin; Rita Hartung Cheng, Southern Illinois; Daniel Papp, Kennesaw State.

While the NCAA’s Board of Directors passed the change in the governance structure, a change which essentially allow the five richest conferences to govern themselves, the change can still be vetoed if 75 schools, basically all of the non-power conferece schools, decide to petition against it. However, given the makeup of the board and the schools that did support the vote, it’s unlikely that will happen.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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