As Division I moves closer to changing its governance structure, the Division I Steering Committee on Governance today released an updated governance model to the membership. The updated model and legislative proposal reflect the feedback from campuses and conferences that guided the committee’s decisions.
The restructuring effort aims to preserve and improve the model of collegiate athletics that has helped millions of student-athletes gain access to higher education and pursue a degree. Most importantly, committee members said, the changes will allow the governance structure to more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of student-athletes.
“We will begin to focus on student-athlete welfare in ways they will feel as early as next year,” said Michael Drake, president of The Ohio State University and steering committee member.
The final model represents the latest work of the steering committee and the membership as a whole. NCAA President Mark Emmert praised the membership for expending the effort and compromise required to build the new model.
“The Division I membership overall and the steering committee in particular worked hard to create a structure that will allow the division to operate more simply and inclusively,” Emmert said. “It shows a clear commitment to support student-athletes and allow them not only a place at the table but a voice in the process.”
The board will vote on the complete model Aug. 7. Between today and Aug. 7, the steering committee members will reach out to their presidential colleagues to discuss the new model and the committee’s reasoning and process.
The final model establishes a 24-member Board of Directors charged with ensuring the division adheres to appropriate values and principles as well as overseeing the workings of the substructure. The change in board composition and membership is the result of the steering committee members carefully considering the input offered by the membership and believing that the final model represents the best compromise.
The steering committee increased the size of the Council to include two additional faculty athletics representatives. In the new model, the Council would be responsible for day-to-day operations of the division, assisted by a three-group substructure focused on academics, championships and legislation, respectively. Athletics directors would comprise the majority of the council, and two student-athletes will vote.
Autonomy saw some changes as well, including: a refinement of the list of items over which the five major conferences would have autonomy, codification of how items will move from shared governance to the autonomous area and definition of how the five major conferences will conduct business.
The steering committee agreed to allow the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12 , Pacific 12 and Southeastern conferences until October 1 to put together their first proposals that would be considered and possibly adopted when the five conferences conduct a business session at the 2015 NCAA Convention.
The steering committee also provided more detail requested by the membership about the structure of the governance bodies reporting to the board and council.
The proposed governance redesign legislation will be subject to a 60-day override period. At least 75 schools must request an override to require the board to reconsider a rule change. If 125 schools request an override, the rule is suspended until the board meets to reconsider. If the board members decline to change their mind, the full division will vote on the change through an online system. At least a five-eighths majority must vote for an override for the rule to be rescinded.
The 24 members would consist of:
- Five presidents from the five major conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pacific 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference)
- Five presidents from the remaining five Football Bowl Subdivision Conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference)
- Five presidents from the Football Championship Subdivision
- Five presidents from Division I schools without football
- Chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Chair of the Council (the governance body charged with the day-to-day work of the division, intended to be an athletics director), a Division I member of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association appointed by the group’s executive board and a campus senior woman athletics representative chosen by the executive committee of the National Association for Collegiate Woman Athletics Administrators.
The FCS and Division I conferences would determine the rotation of conferences with representation on the board.
The increase in size would make the weighted voting totals on the Council:
- 37.5 percent for the five major conferences
- 18.8 percent for the five remaining FBS conferences
- 37.5 percent for the FCS and Division I (no football) conferences
- 3.1 percent for the student-athletes
- 3.1 percent for the designated faculty athletics representatives
- The steering committee removed transfers from the autonomy list – with a caveat. The five conferences requested autonomy over transfers if substantial change isn’t accomplished within the new structure’s first two years.
- In order to be granted autonomy over an area, three of the five major conferences would have to agree. If 12 of the 20 presidents or chancellors on the board approve, the item can be moved to the autonomy list. The steering committee chose to lower these thresholds because feedback from within the five conferences indicated that the previous standard could impede the ability of the conferences to advance an agenda to support student-athletes.
- To conduct business within the autonomy category, each of the five conferences would appoint one representative from each of the 65 member schools and three student-athlete representatives from each conference to cast votes, for a total of 80 votes. Items could be approved in two different ways:
- 60 percent of all votes (48 votes) and a simple majority support from schools in three of the five conferences, or
- A simple majority of all votes (at least 41) and simple majority support from the schools in four of the five conferences.
- The substructure would include a Committee on Academics, which will report to the board of directors while still maintaining a close relationship with the council and other groups that will address legislative and championship/competition/student-athlete well-being issues.
- The substructure for shared governance will not be prepared to consider and adopt legislation until the 2015-16 legislative cycle.