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Pac-12 calls for sweeping change, greater urgency in “Big Five” reform

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The Associated Press obtained a letter sent from Pac-12 university presidents to their colleagues in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC pushing a greater sense of urgency in making sweeping changes to the NCAA model to give more autonomy to “Big Five” schools.

Spurred by Northwestern’s unionization vote, the Pac-12 presidents want to get out of in front of the concerns raised by Kain Colter and the NLRB. The letter, in part, reads:

it is clear from the recent statements of any number of individuals that, while they may share or view that labor unions are not the answer, the time has come for a meaningful response both to the student-athletes’ grievances and the need to reassert the academic primacy of our mission.

The complete list of proposals in the letter are in the AP story, but a few jumped out:

— Decrease the demands placed on the athlete in-season, correspondingly increase the time available for studies and campus life, by preventing the abuse of organized “voluntary” practices to circumvent the limit of 20 hours per week and more realistically assess the time away from campus and other commitments during the season.

— Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices, and by considering shorter seasons in specific sports.

— Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate requirements for postseason play.

— Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.

The first two there would seem to be designed to provide student-athletes with more time both in and out of season for studying, though perhaps those “voluntary” workouts are so ingrained in college football’s culture that curbing them would be difficult. The same goes for weight training, conditioning, film study, etc. — unless someone is monitoring what a player does 24/7, it’ll be impossible to tell that player to not focus on football outside of practice.

In short: Players still may find a way to spend 40-60 hours a week on football, even if there’s a mandate against it.

Strengthening the APR requirements for postseason play could get interesting — Oklahoma State became the first power conference school to lose practice time due to a poor APR. Programs that don’t place as much emphasis on academics may have to … or they could find loopholes and ways to skate by to stay bowl eligible.

The last one would be a much-welcome change. However that liberalization of the transfer rules would manifest itself, it’d likely be for the better.

There’s more in the letter — more money and longer guarantees for scholarships, extended medical care, allowing some form of agent contact — that the Pac-12 presidents are pushing. They hope to receive responses by June 4 and continue to move quickly on these issues.

“We acknowledge the core objectives could prove to be expensive and controversial, but the risks of inaction or moving too slowly are far greater,” the letter reads. “The time for tinkering with the rules and making small adjustments is over.”

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5 Responses to “Pac-12 calls for sweeping change, greater urgency in “Big Five” reform”
  1. thraiderskin says: May 21, 2014 10:17 AM

    I agree with every change suggested by the PAC12… These are places of higher learning, to not allow players to seek their academic goals along with their football goals is a joke. As far as transfer rules, the athletes should only be limited by in conference.

  2. planecrashguy says: May 21, 2014 10:38 AM

    Liberalize transfer rules? I’d make them tougher. I’d also either make verbal commitments binding or do away with them entirely.

  3. deadeye says: May 21, 2014 11:21 AM

    It sounds like the PAC12 wants their football programs to be populated with student athletes as opposed to NFL minor league prospects.

    I applaud the intent, but don’t think what they want will yield the hoped for results.

  4. mogogo1 says: May 21, 2014 12:22 PM

    I’ll give them credit for even writing the memo, even though there’s no chance of most of those points actually being adopted.

    How far is reality from the ideals of this memo? The PAC 12 recently announced they really want to play football games in Mexico. There’s absolutely no direct benefit to doing that–a team would lose a home date, there’d be extra travel and preparations, etc., and it’s not like the PAC 12 is ever going to have a member school in Mexico. It’s all just an ego trip for the PAC 12 execs.

  5. sweepthleg says: May 21, 2014 12:34 PM

    Just turn the Big 5 Conferences into the NFL minor leagues that they are. Just make the player’s employees and get rid of the necessity of them having to go to class. If a player wishes to attend classes at the University make them pay for the classes or offer them a reduced rate. Just get rid of the facade of “Student-Athletes” and pay them according to their work on the field and talent levels. Forcing players who don’t want to attend classes to go to them just cheapens the degrees of all the paying students. This would clarify the system for everyone involved.

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