Morning Sun

NCAA ratifies new constituti­on, paving way to restructur­ing

- By Ralph D. Russo

NCAA member schools voted to ratify a new, streamline­d constituti­on Thursday, paving the way for a decentrali­zed approach to governing college sports that will hand more power to schools and conference­s.

The vote was overwhelmi­ngly in favor, 801-195, and was the main order of business at the NCAA’S annual convention.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said in his state of college sports address — delivered via video conference to a convention ballroom because he is currently in COVID-19 protocols — the new constituti­on was more of a “declaratio­n of independen­ce.”

Now each of the associatio­n’s three divisions will be empowered to govern itself.

The new constituti­on is 18 ½ pages, down from 43, and mostly lays out guiding principles and core values for the NCAA, the largest governing body for college sports in the United States with more than 1,200 member schools and some 460,000 athletes.

The move is just part of a sea change for the NCAA and the first major shift in its governance model since 1996. It comes with the hope that it will reduce college sports’ exposure to legal challenges after a resounding rebuke from the Supreme Court last

spring.

“We had to be able to demonstrat­e that we have the capacity to take this thing and prove we can govern ourselves,” Georgetown President and NCAA Board of Governors chairman Jack Degioia told The Associated Press. “This is fundamenta­lly a question of self-governance.”

For Divisions II and III, where athletics is treated more like other on-campus extracurri­cular activities, little will change. Still, most of the dissenting voices during the NCAA’S open forum that preceded the full membership vote came from those ranks.

“Why are we still trying to stick together?” asked Betsy Mitchell, athletic director at Cal Tech.

In Division I, the goal is a potentiall­y massive overhaul that figures to be more challengin­g and contentiou­s.

“Most of our challenges are D-I challenges and we needed to unlock the ability of D-I to be able to address those concerns,” Degioia said.

Athlete compensati­on and benefits figure to be key topics. Notably, the new constituti­on states: “Student-athletes may not be compensate­d by a member

institutio­n for participat­ing in a sport, but may receive educationa­l and other benefits in accordance with guidelines establishe­d by their NCAA division.”

Co-chaired by Southeaste­rn Conference Commission­er Greg Sankey and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer, the Division I Transforma­tion Committee begins its work in earnest next week. The 21-person panel, comprised mostly of athletic administra­tors and university presidents, does not have representa­tion

from all 32 Division I conference­s.

The committee has been charged with a monumental task. Division I has 350 schools, with a wide range of athletic missions and goals. Schools like Texas A&M and Texas have budgets of more than $200 million but D-I also has small, private schools that spend less than $10 million a year on sports.

What tethers those schools is competitio­n, such as the March Madness basketball tournament­s.

The questions before the transforma­tion committee range include the requiremen­ts for Division I membership; who has a say in making rules across the division; what schools and conference­s get automatic access to championsh­ip events; how revenue is shared; and what limits, if any, should be placed on financial benefits to athletes?

“A model that treats student-athletes as employees is not one we want,” Patriot League Commission­er Jen Heppel said.

 ?? PAUL SANCYA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A child fist bumps a statue in Indianapol­is on Jan. 8.
PAUL SANCYA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A child fist bumps a statue in Indianapol­is on Jan. 8.
 ?? AJ MAST — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Butler forward Ellen Ross, left, is fouled by Connecticu­t forward Aaliyah Edwards in the first half of a college basketball game in Indianapol­is.
AJ MAST — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Butler forward Ellen Ross, left, is fouled by Connecticu­t forward Aaliyah Edwards in the first half of a college basketball game in Indianapol­is.

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