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Council adopts Final Four family travel proposal

Move codifies pilot program that allowed NCAA to pay for family travel to Men’s and Women’s Final Fours

In other action, the Council approved a new legislative process that will require conferences to submit legislative concepts by July 15 if they intend to sponsor legislation in the ensuing legislative cycle. NCAA Photos

The NCAA will continue to pay for families of student-athletes to travel to the Men’s and Women’s Final Fours. The Division I Council on Wednesday made permanent a pilot program that began with the 2015 Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships and had been extended through an annual waiver.

“We are glad to make permanent a program that has benefited student-athletes and their families since 2015,” said Council chair Blake James, athletics director at Miami (Florida). “The family travel program allows families to take part in the Final Fours and celebrate with their student-athletes.”

The legislation authorizes continued payments up to $3,000 total in travel, hotel and meal expenses for family members of each student-athlete on teams that compete in the Final Four semifinal games but don’t advance to the championships. The NCAA pays up to $4,000 in expenses for each student-athlete on teams that compete in the men’s and women’s basketball championship games.

Schools decide how and when to distribute funds to family members but make sure the funds are used as intended. The allowance is meant to cover transportation, hotel and meals for two family members per student-athlete. The NCAA has set no requirements on how far a family must travel to receive the allowance.

The College Football Playoff pays for families of participating student-athletes to travel to their events, a benefit also made possible by NCAA rules.

In other action, the Council approved a new legislative process that will require conferences to submit legislative concepts by July 15 if they intend to sponsor legislation in the ensuing legislative cycle.  The Council also modified the certification process for women’s basketball events in which prospective student-athletes participate to match the legislation adopted for men’s basketball based on a recommendation from the Commission on College Basketball.

Votes on early recruiting in men’s ice hockey and recruiting calendar changes for baseball, originally slated for a January vote, were delayed until April.

The group also adopted the final recommendations from a working group charged with implementing commission recommendations regarding the enforcement and infractions process. The changes add further detail to major concepts adopted last year, including negotiated resolution and independent resolution. The new rules include logistical changes to the independent resolution process, a method for determining financial penalties and further details about the responsibility to cooperate with investigations.

Council members also heard an update on a comprehensive review of championships the Competition Oversight Committee is undertaking. That group is examining the championship experience from several different perspectives and will develop priorities and principles to create and maintain a positive student-athlete experience, including fair and equitable competition within a fiscally sustainable model.

The Council introduced amendments to current early recruiting legislative proposals that would remove the specific initial date for verbal offers from both the broad early recruiting proposal and the one specific to men’s ice hockey. Many in the membership consider rules limiting verbal offers to a date after the first opportunity to make or receive telephone calls to be unenforceable, and Council members wanted the opportunity to consider the proposals both with and without the verbal offers portion.

Additionally, the baseball community indicated ways that sport is unique, including the professional draft opportunities at a young age, that led the Council to remove that sport from the broad-based early recruiting proposal. The Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee will continue to discuss the sport and plans to propose a baseball-specific measure in the 2019-20 legislative cycle.

The proposals and amendments will be considered for a vote at the Council’s April meeting.

Finally, the Council elected a new chair to replace James. M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania, will serve as chair. Her term will begin at the conclusion of the Council’s June meeting. The Council will vote in April on a replacement for vice chair Jean Lenti Ponsetto, athletics director at DePaul.