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2016 NCAA Convention legislation: Division I

Changes to be considered for conference football championships, declaring for NBA draft

Actions expected at the 2016 NCAA Convention could bring more change for college athletes, especially in the high-profile sports of football and men’s basketball. Proposals to be considered by the Division I Council could change the way conferences determine their football champions and alter the process for students declaring for the NBA draft.

A football championship proposal, introduced into the legislative cycle by the Council and created by the Football Oversight Committee, would allow conferences with fewer than 12 teams to exempt a conference championship game and eliminate some scheduling requirements associated with a conference championship in the sport. An amendment to the proposal from the Big Ten Conference would allow the championship game with fewer conference members but preserve the scheduling requirements. Both proposals will be considered at the Council meeting Wednesday.

Another proposal to be considered by the Council will make the process of declaring for the NBA draft more flexible for students competing in NCAA men’s basketball. The proposal moves back the date by which students must declare for the draft and allows them to declare more than once in a college career. The declaration date is now the day before the first day of the spring National Letter of Intent signing period; the new date would be 10 days after the NBA combine. The most recent NBA combine was held May 13-17, 2015. Additionally, if the proposal were adopted, students could try out with different NBA teams and still return to school.

These proposals will be considered outside the regular legislative cycle for Division I because of the desire to provide as much notice as possible to men’s basketball student-athletes for the basketball draft proposal and to conferences for the football championship proposal. While the Council will review other legislation, votes will not be cast on those other measures until April.

In addition to legislation considered by all conferences through the Council, the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences will vote on legislation in their areas of autonomy. Discussion of those proposals and votes will be Friday, Jan. 15.

DI Issues Forum to emphasize SAAC initiatives

The national Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will highlight its key initiatives during the DI Issues Forum, set for 1 p.m. Jan. 15. Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president of Division I governance, will kick off the event with a “state of the division” assessment, followed by a review of high-profile legislation in the shared governance structure.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee presentation will include the results of its student-athlete survey focused on time demands; the need for financial literacy education at member schools; a report on the process of voting for student-athletes; and updates on community service initiatives spearheaded by student-athletes.

SAAC chair and Division I Board of Directors member Kendall Spencer, a recent graduate of the University of New Mexico, where he competed in track and field, said the group will have concrete recommendations for addressing time demands effectively to share with members. They also will present a plan to develop financial literacy resources that can be accessed online and discuss their role in governance moving forward.

“This year our voice is stronger and more progressive than ever,” Spencer said. “We hope to maintain this growth through continued support from our conferences and member schools.”

Governance bodies to meet

In addition to the Council, the Division I Board of Directors and Division I Presidential Forum will both meet at the Convention. The board and the forum members will discuss the progress of the working groups. Additionally, the forum will begin developing best practices for overseeing college athletics identified at their October meeting. The Council will discuss football bowl game issues, transfer rules and policies and potential options for enhancing the student-athlete experience. The group is also expected to discuss an extension and possible permanent adoption of the flexible review authority given to the Academic and Membership Affairs staff when considering waivers and reinstatement cases. When originally adopted by the Leadership Council in 2014, the members decided the national office staff’s flexibility to more heavily consider a student-athlete’s personal circumstances when making decisions on waiver applications would end after two years. The two years expires this month.