The Division I Board of Directors is now one step closer to changing the power structure of the NCAA to grant more autonomy to the “Big Five” conferences, as the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC were referred to in the NCAA’s release.
It’s not a secret that the teams in the biggest conferences also have the biggest budgets, and the Board of Directors endorsed the idea of allowing the Big Five the chance to provide their student-athletes with the kind of benefits that have been pushed for in recent years:
Enough financial aid and scholarship money to cover the full cost of attendance
Insurance policies, including those that protect future earnings
More academic support, especially for at-risk athletes
Continuing education and medical care
Travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and other expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking)
Those will go to a final vote in August.
The other noteworthy aspect of today’s release from the NCAA is that hardship waivers granting immediate eligibility to transfers will now be a thing of the past. “Qualifying student-athletes who cannot transfer and play immediately without a waiver will be allowed a sixth year to complete their four years of eligibility,” the NCAA said in the release. In other words, the players will not be held to current NCAA standard that four years of eligibility must be used up in a five-year window.
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The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.