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NCAA board ‘overwhelmingly’ approves Power Five autonomy

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A day that the haves hoped would come, and the have-nots have dreaded, is finally here.

As expected, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to approve autonomy for the Power Five conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, as well as Notre Dame — in the division.  Beginning Oct. 1, the NCAA stated in its release, those five conferences can begin passing legislation that only affects themselves and doesn’t involve the Non-Power Five leagues.

The reason for the nearly two-month gap between board approval and implementation is simple: “[t]he proposed governance redesign legislation is subject to a 60-day override period as specified in the current legislative process. For the board to reconsider the change, at least 75 schools must request an override. Generally, reconsideration occurs at the next scheduled board meeting, set for Oct. 30.”

It’s widely expected that any who oppose autonomy will be able to get anywhere close to the 75 schools necessary for an override.

“I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership. The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree.”

So, what does autonomy mean? For Power Five football players, additional money, benefits and (some) voting power, including but not limited to:

— the full cost of attendance above what a scholarship currently covers. That could be, depending on the school, $2,000 additional dollars a year to football players to upwards of $5,000 or more annually.
— two student-athletes will have seats on the new legislative council, which will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the division. Additionally, as the release states, “[t]he legislative process for these 65 schools, which could begin as early as Oct. 1, includes three student-athlete representatives from each conference who will vote on rule changes within those conferences.”
— extended medical benefits and coverage, including post-career.
— “unlimited scholarships,” meaning a player could return to the university at any time and finish up his degree, free of charge.
— benefits for a player’s family, including money for road trips to see their son/grandson/brother/nephew play in important games or postseason games.

These potential changes, mind you, aren’t exclusive to Power Five programs; any and all FBS programs could adopt them at any given time after October 1. The financial cost to the non-Power Five, though, would make it prohibitive to all but a handful of the mid-majors, although the AAC is looking at implementing some combination of those initiatives in order to keep the haves in their sights.

Here’s one more thing: even with all of these changes, the scholarship limits — 85 at any one time — will not change. As had been the case in the past, the top programs won’t be able to stash players on their rosters to keep them out of another program’s hands. The same players that were available to the non-Power Five on the recruiting trail before will be made available to them moving forward.

One thing that might change? Power Five transfers who before would look toward a mid-major for additional playing time might think twice about giving up the benefits — both now and in the future — and moving on to another school.

The ramifications of all of this are, at the moment, unknown and won’t be known for some length of time. What is certain is that the game of college football will likely never be the same again. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen.

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13 Responses to “NCAA board ‘overwhelmingly’ approves Power Five autonomy”
  1. dmvtransplant says: Aug 7, 2014 1:47 PM

    Now I see why Chris Peterson left Boise State, he’d never be able to compete with these rules.

  2. cometkazie says: Aug 7, 2014 1:48 PM

    The NYT’s take on it:

    Get out the popcorn.

  3. sdelmonte says: Aug 7, 2014 1:51 PM

    Time for the other conferences to just move to the FCS. It’s clear they are the tail wagging the dog.

  4. pawloosa says: Aug 7, 2014 2:06 PM

    Another sad–sad day in sports

    Is it too late to become an attorney??
    Heaven knows that 17yr olds that don’t have the best understanding of legal binding contracts that involve money will be needing them… Both in signing and breaking them…

  5. orthomarine says: Aug 7, 2014 2:30 PM

    RIP College Football and tradition

  6. houndofthebaskervols says: Aug 7, 2014 2:39 PM

    Will be interesting to see how some of the “haves” spin this for recruiting. The impact will be fairly significant I expect.

  7. brutusbuckeye2011 says: Aug 7, 2014 2:47 PM

    This is the first step towards turning Power Five football into a minor league for the NFL. In a few years very few mid-major teams will be on a Power Five schedule. There will be no more Cinderella stories like Boise, Utah and TCU (prior to joining their new leagues). If this rule was in effect 100 years ago nobody would have ever heard of Notre Dame. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mid-Majors launch an anti-trust suit because they are not effectively shut out from the chance of TV contracts and a National Championship,

  8. Steven Keys says: Aug 7, 2014 3:31 PM

    Uh, yeah, the “two-month gap” is what has me perplexing, John. Oy vey.

    A good day for Monopoly®, say the powdered-wigs of college athletic enterprise.

    And a good opening line.

  9. mogogo1 says: Aug 7, 2014 4:50 PM

    The NCAA had no real choice, but this still will mark their downfall. The power conferences no longer need the NCAA and will tolerate them for a while, but at some point they’ll get tired of them and just withdraw to totally run their show on their own.

  10. pawloosa says: Aug 7, 2014 6:14 PM

    So is the “true cost of attendance” aka… Pay for play…money taxable??
    Who will pay the taxes??
    How will the amount be decided ($2000, $5000, or some random amount $2999.95) and will every athlete receive the same amount or will they show preference of one athlete over another??

    Are any of these details worked out yet or are the P5 conferences taking a page out of Obamas play book trying to solve a problem by throwing money at it….ready….fire….aim!!!

    This has disaster written ALL over it….

  11. florida727 says: Aug 7, 2014 7:58 PM

    My favorite team is in one of the so-called “power conferences”, so you’d think I’d be happy about this. I’m not. I think this will ultimately prove to be the undoing of college football as we know it, and NOT in a good way.

  12. jec332 says: Aug 7, 2014 8:58 PM

    Good call. The games against non P5 schools are normally boring. This will increase the SOS and not make it where the first four games are gimme games.

    Hopefully this moves toward more P5 just playing each other.

  13. Deb says: Aug 7, 2014 10:59 PM

    I’m no happier than anyone else to see our traditions change. But that’s already happened. It’s not Grandpa’s game anymore. It’s a multi-billion-dollar business where the lion’s share of revenue is generated through those Power Five conferences, and the only people not profiting from that revenue are the guys taking all the risks on the field.

    Yes, some of these players wind up making a big payday in the pros. But the majority have been working full-time as players while trying to maintain their grades and fearing they’ll lose their scholarships if a booster buys them a pizza. Yeah, yeah … the stars are the spoiled Big Men on Campus. But let them suffer a career-ending injury as a student and they wind up with nothing while the school and EA Sports (until recently) continue to make a fortune on their merchandise and image.

    It’s wrong and it’s been wrong for a long time. We all love tradition, but football is never going back to the good old days.

    If you really love the game, don’t begrudge the players their compensation. This isn’t the end of college football. The real threat to the game is that parents will decide it’s not worth the health risks and stop their kids from playing it at the Pee Wee, junior high, and high school level. Then we won’t have to worry about what happens in college ball.

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