One of the buzzwords in collegiate athletics in recent months has been “autonomy,” with five conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) looking to have greater control over how they operate on a daily basis when it comes to NCAA rules. With the feeling being that there are some issues that affect their member institutions more than those in smaller conferences, those five leagues have ideas of what they would like to do for themselves and the athletes who represent their schools (such as meeting the full cost of attendance).
How would a “new” NCAA look with those five conferences being granted autonomy? Friday morning the NCAA announced that it has moved closer to a new governance structure, which includes guidelines on what it would take for those conferences to be granted autonomy on a particular issue.
The steering committee increased the size of the Council to include two additional faculty athletics representatives. In the new model, the Council would be responsible for day-to-day operations of the division, assisted by a three-group substructure focused on academics, championships and legislation, respectively. Athletics directors would comprise the majority of the council, and two student-athletes will vote.
Autonomy saw some changes as well, including: a refinement of the list of items over which the five major conferences would have autonomy, codification of how items will move from shared governance to the autonomous area and definition of how the five major conferences will conduct business.
With regards to autonomy, the “Power Five” leagues would need 60% of votes (amongst their members) and a simple conference majority of support from three of the five leagues, or 51% of votes and a majority in four of the five leagues in order to be granted autonomy. One interesting note about autonomy is that the issue of transfers, which has gained attention in recent years, will not be included. That can change however, should the “Power Five” feel that after two years there hasn’t been “substantial change” with regards to the situation.
While the announcement provides a look into what the new governance structure could look like, there’s no guarantee that these changes will actually occur. These measures are now subject to a 60-day override period, meaning that if 75 schools request an override of these measures the board would then have to reconsider the changes. If 125 (or more) schools make that request, the changes are suspended until the board discusses the proposed changes.