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DI Board looks to continue reform efforts

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

Following a busy summer and fall, the Division I Board of Directors will continue its efforts to reform collegiate athletics at its January 14 meeting at the 2012 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

In addition to hearing reports from working groups still formulating recommendations, the Board will reconsider earlier action allowing schools to give additional funding up to $2,000 to student-athletes receiving the value of a full scholarship and permitting athletics scholarships to extend beyond a single year.

Both rules were adopted by the Board in October. More than 125 schools requested an override of the miscellaneous expense allowance, which suspended the legislation. More than 75 schools requested an override of the multi-year awards, meaning the Board will review its action but the rule remains in place.

“Our process allows for vigorous comment and debate, and many of our members have spoken that they want to further consider and review how to best support their student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “Both the Division I board and the Student-Athlete Working Group have listened, and the working group has recommended changes that will simplify and make fairer the allowance of additional resources for student-athletes.”

Following the override requests for the legislation, Student-Athlete Well-Being group members have recommended the Board modify the miscellaneous expense allowance proposal to accommodate some of the concerns raised by the membership. This includes the belief the miscellaneous expense allowance would have a negative impact on already tight budgets.

The group members,which met last week via conference call, recommended the portion of the new rule that allowed student-athletes to receive all types of aid up to the value of a full scholarship without counting against team limits be removed.  Many institutions believed that process was too complicated and could lead to wealthier institutions “stockpiling” talented student-athletes in all sports as well as create inequities between sports.

The group also recommended the Board address Title IX concerns expressed by many institutions requesting the override. The working group has identified several options, including:

  • Add the $2,000 miscellaneous expense allowance to the value of a full grant-in-aid for all student-athletes in all sports (not to exceed the cost of attendance) and to any equivalency grant up to the applicable proportion of $2,000 for each grant recipient. This option would be straightforward but could place pressure on schools who hadn’t intended to offer the miscellaneous expense allowance to do so.
  • Allow schools to create a separate pool of money equivalent to the additional $2,000 for each full grant (for example, the pool for a fully funded baseball team would be $23,400, or $2,000 times 11.7 full grants). The extra benefit would then be apportioned at the instituition’s discretion to student-athletes at the same percentage level as the grant they are now receiving (for example, a student-athlete receiving a 50 percent grant would receive 50 percent of the miscellaneous expense allowance). This option is perceived as more closely aligned with the original intent of the legislation.

The working group suggested the presidents on the Board stand firm on their adoption of the multi-year grants because the benefits to student-athletes outweigh the concerns raised.

Allowing schools to award scholarships for more than a single year addresses concerns some student-athletes have about losing their aid after an injury, because their athletics performance did not live up to expectations, or because of coaching staff changes. If aid were guaranteed for more than a single year, student-athletes would have greater assurance their education could continue. In other action:

  • The presidents will also hear a report from the resource allocation working group and could vote on a series of recommendations that would eliminate foreign tours, reduce scholarships in football and women’s basketball and freeze the length of the playing season in all NCAA sports until a study to determine appropriate contest numbers is complete.
  • The Division I Leadership Council also will meet at Convention. The representatives on the Council will finalize a recommendation regarding tryouts in men’s basketball, part of an overhaul of the men’s basketball recruiting model adopted by the Board in October. The group will also continue its discussion of agents and amateurism rules. The Council meets January 12.
  • The Committee on Academic Performance also will forward to the presidents a recommendation for the timing of implementation for the new requirement that teams achieve a 930 Academic Progress Rate in order to be eligible for championships. The CAP also meets January 12.