College leaders to discuss further exploring Charlie Baker's new proposal at NCAA convention next week

Next week in Houston, Michigan and Washington will meet in the national championship game. And while much of the focus is on that high-profile collision, something else looms large in the coming days.

At the NCAA convention in Phoenix, college administrators will gather to potentially lay the groundwork for further exploration of president Charlie Baker’s proposal to revolutionize the Division I model.

At its meeting next Thursday, the Division I Board of Directors is scheduled to review the proposal and determine whether to charge the Division I Council, or another body, with developing recommendations related to the framework of the proposal — a decision that will initiate a potentially yearlong activation process and chart a course for one of the most radical changes in NCAA history.

The board’s plans are detailed in convention documents obtained by Yahoo Sports.

Baker’s proposal, deemed as “Project Division I” and introduced last month, would permit schools to strike name, image and likeness (NIL) deals with athletes and offer them an unlimited amount of educationally related benefits. A third concept, perhaps viewed as the most radical, creates a new FBS subdivision requiring schools to deposit into a trust $30,000 per athlete for half of a school’s athletes.

Convention documents lay out a potential timeline for the activation process of Project DI, suggesting that the three-part proposal be bifurcated. The initial focus would be on the first two concepts that permit schools to (1) strike NIL deals with athletes and (2) offer enhanced educational benefits to athletes. The process around adopting (3) the new subdivision would follow the adoption of the other two concepts.

According to the timeline, the DI Council, if given authority to further explore the proposal, will produce final recommendations to the board by its June 25-26 meeting. By August, the board will take action on those recommendations. The timeline targets next January’s NCAA convention for action on the new subdivision structure.

The timeline is meant only as a suggestion and might be adjusted, documents say. While the NCAA declined to comment on the documents, an association spokesperson confirmed that the dates listed in the timeline are dates of previously scheduled meetings for both the DI Council and Board of Directors.

NCAA president Charlie Baker revealed the new proposal in December. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
NCAA president Charlie Baker revealed the new proposal in December. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The reveal of Baker’s proposal last month, while a surprise to many, was mostly met with fanfare for its progressive and bold approach, though some questioned both its rollout — few knew the intimate details — and its sustainability as a long-term solution to college athletics' compensation issues.

Short on details, Project DI was intended to be only a conversation-starter. However, its inclusion on the DI Board of Directors agenda next week is a sign that leaders are serious about examining its potential as real legislation.

College leaders are also expected to examine modifications to two other topics next week: NIL and transfers.


In its meeting from the convention Wednesday, the NCAA DI Council is expected to review and adopt a proposal (2023-58) that addresses NIL athlete protections. These new concepts were announced in the fall and include:

  • Establishing a voluntary registration process for NIL professional service providers such as agents and advisors.

  • Making it mandatory for athletes to disclose to their schools NIL deals of $600 or more within 30 days of signing the agreement.

  • Creating a standardization or template for NIL contracts.

  • Developing a comprehensive educational plan for college athletes, future college athletes and agents, collectives and advisers.

Separately, the council is expected to review recommendations around NIL collectives and an institution’s role as it relates to collectives. Those include:

  • Removing current policies that restrict schools from assisting enrolled athletes with NIL. That would include schools contracting with third-party service providers such as multimedia rightsholders to provide NIL support.

  • Specify that entities that are officially affiliated or closely aligned with a school are subject to the same standards as schools — a nod to Title IX.

  • Clearly define an NIL entity as an individual, group of individuals or NIL collective organized to support athletic interests at a member school by compensating athletes for NIL.

  • Prohibit NIL entities (collectives) from engaging in any contact or communication or providing benefits to a recruit (high school or college transfers) until that recruit has either signed a letter of intent, began athletics activities or enrolled in classes.


College leaders are seriously considering several significant changes to the NCAA transfer policy, including abolishing the year-in-residency penalty, increasing transfer academic eligibility requirements and levying financial penalties on schools that don’t meet academic benchmarks.

The NCAA DI Council and Board of Directors are expected to review and discuss the potential modifications next week. Any action is expected later this spring, likely April.

An advisory panel of the Division I Council is in the midst of discussing “legislative alternatives” to both the waiver process and the year-in-residency rule, which requires an athlete transferring for a second time or more to sit a year at his or her new school unless the NCAA grants the athlete a waiver.

The panel is also considering changes geared toward mitigating “the potential impact transfer behavior may have on graduation rates over time,” according to documents. The panel has suggested adjusting the eligibility requirement, such as the number of credits needed for athletes to be eligible at their next school (from six hours to nine).

Other possible legislative and policy alternatives that might be considered include:

  1. Requiring schools to “develop a path” to graduation for transfers and conducting an audit of academic performance on transfers.

  2. Developing a new academic metric to measure a school’s graduation rate for transfer athletes, such as an “NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate” that incentivizes retention.

  3. Amending the current revenue distribution model to require schools to meet academic benchmarks tied to the new formula. Funds could be forfeited for failing to meet the benchmarks.

The panel agreed that certain existing transfer rules should remain, including transferring and playing immediately within the same sport season.

These possible changes are part of a broad reexamination of the transfer policy, the latest NCAA rule the courts are targeting. The policy is at the center of a lawsuit brought by seven state attorneys general against the NCAA.