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DI Board pledges to move forward with feedback from the membership

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

The Division I Board of Directors emphatically recommitted to reforming collegiate athletics and the presidents pledged to move forward efficiently while seeking appropriate feedback from the membership.

“We believe in the reform efforts and fully support the commitments to student-athlete well-being, academic success, smarter rules and tougher enforcement of those rules,” said Board Chair Judy Genshaft, president at South Florida. “The work to achieve those goals will continue. We will give voice to our members in this process, so the presidents can make the most informed decisions possible.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert reiterated his support for the presidential agenda, encouraging the Board to make change in a measured but decisive way.

Reforming College Athletics: Presidential Responsibility.

“I believe the Board’s commitment to improving the lives of student-athletes will have a remarkably positive impact on college athletics as a whole,” Emmert said. “We will continue to make swift strides toward that goal, while at the same time listening to the concerns of our membership.”

The Board approved a new timeline for reform that allows for a more comprehensive discussion within the membership, but still ensures the presidents can make principled decisions in a timely fashion.

In August, the Board will hear final recommendations from the Collegiate Model: Enforcement Working Group, including a revamped violation structure and an expanded Committee on Infractions, as well as individual accountability measures for presidents, athletics directors and coaches.

The Collegiate Model: Rules Working Group will present its first phase of recommendations either later this year or possibly at the January 2013 NCAA Convention in Dallas, giving the membership ample time to review its work and comment on concepts.

Reforming College Athletics: Acting decisively.

That group is in the process of gathering feedback from the membership on proposed revisions to the set of bylaws that cover athletics personnel, recruiting and awards, benefits and expenses. The group also is seeking feedback on a set of overarching principles on which the working bylaws will be derived from in the future. The remaining bylaws will be revised over the next several months.

The Board also committed to continued discussion on a new rule that addresses the miscellaneous costs of attending college. The presidents remain resolute in their belief that the value of an athletics scholarship should be increased. A decision on the rule could come later this year.

The miscellaneous expense allowance is intended to help student-athletes receiving a full scholarship to pay for things not covered by the grant, such as laundry, computers or occasional trips home.

The presidents are seeking feedback on three different options:

  • Allow each school to give student-athletes up to $2,000 of additional aid (not to exceed cost of attendance). In this model, financial need is not part of the criteria and student-athletes could receive the additional funding whether they were on full scholarship or received some portion of a scholarship. Alternately, those receiving partial scholarships could be limited to receiving a proportional amount of the $2,000 (for example, if they receive a 25 percent scholarship, they could receive $500 of the additional funding).
  • Base the eligibility for the miscellaneous expense allowance on a student-athlete’s demonstrated “need” as detailed through the Free Application for Student Financial Assistance (FAFSA). To be eligible for the funding, student-athletes must fill out the FAFSA.
  • Allow each school to use Student-Athlete Opportunity Funds, up to $2,000 per student-athlete, up to the cost of attendance. Each school would be allowed to supplement their SAOF funds by up to $2,000 for each of the total number of grants-in-aid.

The Student-Athlete Well-Being Working Group is seeking feedback on these three options so it can make a final recommendation to the Board in advance of the August meeting.

Last fall, the presidents adopted the original proposal, which would have allowed student-athletes who receive full athletics scholarships (or get other school financial aid combined with athletics aid equal to a full scholarship) the opportunity to receive additional athletics aid up to the institution's calculation of full cost of attendance or $2,000, whichever is less.

The rule was suspended after 160 schools objected to its adoption. Schools cited Title IX compliance concerns, competitive equity, application in equivalency sports and the rapidity of adoption and implementation as reasons for the override.

In January, the Board decided to rescind the rule and allow time to build consensus around one of the stated options.

Any new legislation impacting cost of attendance issues will be effective for the 2013-14 academic years to give institutions time to plan for the new rule in their budgets.