Return to Bylaw Blog

Board of Directors Agenda Fleshes Out Autonomy System

At its April 2014 meeting next week, the Division I Board of Directors will be presented with a mostly complete version of the new governance proposal. Many elements of the proposal are already known, and include an expanded Board of Directors, merging of the Leadership and Legislative Councils, and increased input from student-athletes including voting rights.

The biggest piece though is the autonomy to legislate on certain issues which would be granted to the five power conference (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac–12, and SEC). The proposal answers three questions about that autonomy: what would it include, how would the rules adopted apply to the other conferences and institutions, and what would the voting procedure be.

Basically everything the power conferences asked for is in the proposal. Those will still be part of shared governance by the entire Division I membership. Areas earmarked for autonomy include:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Academic support;
  • Meals and nutrition;
  • Most incidental benefits;
  • The value of a scholarship;
  • Rules relating to canceling an athlete’s scholarship;
  • Insurance and career transition (agents);
  • Transfer rules;
  • Time demands on athletes;
  • Recruiting contact; and
  • Personnel limits.

Each of these bylaws will be grouped into two categories: permissive and actionable legislation.

If the five conferences adopt permissive legislation, it is essentially adopted for everyone:

Under this proposed governance model, permissive legislation that is developed and adopted among these institutions and conferences may also be adopted by the rest of Division I at each institution’s respective discretion, or as determined by its conference.

Conferences would have to make conference rules which limit their members if they did not want to participate. Examples in the permissive category include cost of attendance scholarships, most extra benefit rules, agent and insurance rules, and academic support rules. Basically where the power conferences might want to allow themselves to do something they cannot do now, it will be allowed for everyone.

Actionable legislation would not immediately apply to the other conferences. Once the five conferences adopt actionable legislation, the other 27 conferences would have an opportunity to consider the legislation. They would vote on the legislation at the next Council meeting (not the next legislative cycle) and votes would not be weighted like they are on shared governance legislation. Actionable legislation would be where the five conference want to limit themselves and include personnel limits, time demands on athletes, transfer rules, financial aid cancellation, recruiting contact, and preenrollment support for prospects.

Legislation adopted under the autonomy grant would occur at a Five-Conference Business session which must be held at least annually (probably at the NCAA Convention). Each of the 65 institutions in the five conferences would appoint one representative and each conference would appoint three student-athlete representatives. To adopt an item requires it reach two thresholds:

  • Two-thirds majority support from the 80 voting representatives (54 votes); and
  • Majority support from four of the five conferences.

Items can be introduced by one conference and will be vetted by a Legislative Committee to see what moves on in the legislative process. Proposals will be discussed at a Five-Conference forum, a town hall meeting including senior administrators, presidents, student-athlete, conference staff, and coaches. Once legislation is adopted by the five conferences it is final. Actions are only reported to the Board of Directors, not approved by them, and there will be no override procedure.

The Board of Directors is expected to approve the draft proposal and forward it to the membership for comment and feedback at conference meetings held during the spring. That would keep the new governance model on track to be adopted by the Board of Directors in August.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!