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NCAA Governance Changes May Not Be Noticed Immediately

Greg Bishop of the New York Times:

Everyone seemed to agree on a basic premise: N.C.A.A. change is coming, perhaps as soon as next summer.

The more everyone talked, though, the less grand potential reforms seemed. One commissioner, Karl Benson of the Sun Belt Conference, said during a panel discussion that he expected changes would look more like “tweaks.” He was not alone in that sentiment. But it seemed like a step back from the supposed impending “historic moment” detailed by officials in recent months.

This leads Bishop to the conclusion that significant change to the NCAA is no longer a sure thing. But that hasn’t changed since the push for governance reform began.

The demands for reform from the power conferences and universities has always been about ensuring that some pet projects get pushed through. If the original miscellaneous expense allowance proposal was not overridden and ultimately defeated, there would likely not have been talk about the need for more autonomy at the top and the treat of a new NCAA division or breakaway.

But if the early indications are at all accurate, the changes will not be “tweaks”. Empowering one-fifth of Division I to pass legislation either for themselves or that might affect the rest of the division is a major change. A constitutional amendment allowing the Senate to pass laws without the House of Representatives or the President would not be a tweak and neither is the current direction of NCAA governance reform.

The significance of granting this new autonomy and/or authority to the power conferences might not seem as great initially because their current plans for using the autonomy/authority are limited. But it is likely that once they have this power, the haves of Division I will find uses for it (e.g. Swarbrick’s comment on a longer football season) that even they cannot foresee at the moment.

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