An NCAA committee that was charged with a wide-ranging examination of the future of major-college sports released a series of recommendations on Tuesday that could lead to an array of significant changes for the association’s most visible athletics programs.
The suggestions will be subject to approval by the Division I Board of Directors. Youth Archery Set
However, Southeastern Conference commissioner and committee co-chair Greg Sankey said during a conference call late Tuesday afternoon that while he admits to having a bias as someone who helped develop the proposals, the board has "the opportunity to bat 1.000 here."
He added: "We were asked to fulfill a task and provide a report directly to the Board of Directors — not to other elements of the governance structure, but directly to the Board of Directors— and I think we've fulfilled that. And now the opportunity to act will be at that level."
The board will be asked to:
►Increase the number of schools in NCAA Division I championships to 25% of the schools sponsoring a given sport, if the sport is sponsored by more than 200 schools. In men’s and women’s basketball — which, according to NCAA data, was sponsored by roughly 350 schools during 2021-22 school year — this could set the stage for the possible increase in the fields from the current 68 to nearly 90.
NCAA data for 2021-22 shows that championship fields also could be expanded in baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer and women's indoor volleyball, among other sports.
►Change Division I’s revenue distribution system so that it would account for athletic performance in sports other than men’s basketball. For decades, conferences’ collective performance in the men’s basketball tournament has been the determining factor in how one of the largest pools of money is divided.
This has been a major point of contention for women's sports advocates and college-sports reform groups, including the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. It also was covered in recommendations from an external review of NCAA championships that the association commissioned in the wake of disparities in the 2021 men's and women's basketball tournaments.
The committee also recommended that the Divsion I board and NCAA executive staff "evaluate each sport for potential growth in …revenue generation, including additional sport-specific sponsorship and partnership opportunites" as part of upcoming contract negotiations. This also was covered by the external review.
►Create sport-by-sport “management committees” that would “oversee sport-specific rules and policies in assigned areas,” including the selection of postseason teams, and would have athlete representatives on the panels. The sport management committees would decide whether to expand the fields for their respective championships.
►Enhance athlete health and welfare measures, including requirements that schools provide medical coverage for athletically related injuries for at least two years after completion of play; four-year scholarships; and funds that would allow athlete who was on a full-scholarship to complete their degree anytime within 10 years of the end of their college sports career.
These types of protections for athletes have been among those called for in recent years by Democrats in Congress, while the NCAA has been seeking federal laws regarding athletes’ ability to make money from the names, images and likenesses.
Division I schools also would be required to provide athletes with access to a licensed mental-health professional medical personnel "exclsuively dedicated to serving student-athletes." In addition, schools would need to have personnel “with training in the diagnosis, treatment and initial management of acute concussion and other injuries” at practices and games in contact sports. The recommendations also include the prospect of the association subsidizing these costs on need basis for schools with relatively low revenues.
"I don't think what we've done today makes it cost-prohibitive to be a Division I member," said Ohio University athletics director and committee co-chair Julie Cromer said. It "may require some institutions to stretch for certain. But we thought it was important enough for those who wish to share in the rewards of Division I membership to align their resources accordingly to support their student-athletes."
►Reconsider of requirements for schools to be members of the top level Football Bowl Subdivision so they include “elements that … directly link the student-athlete experience to expectations for FBS membership criteria.”
The recommendations come from the Division I Transformation Committee, a 21-member group that primarily included college presidents and athletics administrators, but also had faculty and athlete representations as it covered the spectrum from Power 5 conferences to schools far from those financial powerhouses.
The committee did not make recommendations regarding name, image and likeness rules; the employment status of athletes; or what Sankey termed "the needs of a number of our student athletes in our highest visibility sports, especially in football and men's basketball."
"The reality," Sankey said, "is the NCAA lacks the legal authority to address some of these elements at present" and needs Congressional intervention.
Sankey and Cromer added that the panel views this as on ongoing process.
And the panel identified areas for future consideration, including:
►The Division I Board of Directors overseeing a review of current restrictions of use of agents by current and prospective college athletes, and athletes’ ability participate in professional sports drafts.
Play Park Equipment ►The Board also overseeing the exploration of eliminating sport-by-sport scholarship limits “to focus on the number of student-athletes participating” in team activities each season.