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NCAA Board adopts new policy giving Power 5 conferences autonomy

Aug 7, 2014, 1:36 PM EST

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The NCAA Division I Board of Directors on Thursday voted through legislation that will change how schools and conferences will be able to govern themselves in the future.

The new governing structure within the organization will allow the Power 5 conferences — ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 — a certain level of autonomy. The schools will now have the power to put into place rules and regulations that will benefit them.

“I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership. The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree.”

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The vote passed by a 16-2 margin. The Board of Directors has a 60-day veto period to get through before the new rules become official, but according to USA Today, that is unlikely to happen.

This rule change comes at a time when the NCAA is facing more pressure and scrutiny than ever before regarding student athlete rights and the compensation that athletes can receive in revenue generating sports, football and men’s basketball. One of the biggest reasons that this change was made was to allow the power conference schools the ability to provide their athletes with a stipend to cover full cost-of-attendance scholarships.

The schools in the Power 5 conferences that have eight and nine-figure budgets for their athletic department and generate millions upon millions of dollars off of their television broadcasts can afford those stipends. Programs at the lowest level of Division I have budgets that are roughly equivalent to what the most famous coaches make in salary. It’s a different game at the highest level, and this rule change acknowledges that.

“Today’s vote marks a significant step into a brighter future for Division I athletics,” said Nathan Hatch, board chair and Wake Forest University president. “We hope this decision not only will allow us to focus more intently on the well-being of our student-athletes but also preserve the tradition of Division I as a diverse and inclusive group of schools competing together on college athletics’ biggest stage.”