During the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) convention on Thursday in San Antonio, the NCAA board of directors approved recommendations to reform Division I college sports.
A panel of NCAA athletic directors and university presidents had been meeting weekly for most of the past year to establish better structure and more efficient policies within the NCAA as part of “substantial reform” within the organization.
“Keep in mind these are concepts at this point,” said the chairman of the board and Georgia president Jere Morehead. “So, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the details, but tremendous progress was made today.”
Morehead explained, “The board was very adamant [in] its support of student-athletes and most of the transformation committee recommendations focused on how to enhance the experience for student-athletes.”
“We’re confident these important changes will meet the needs of student-athletes because they were rooted in the perspective of student-athletes,” the Transformation Committee chairs said in a statement.
“Transformation must be a commitment accepted and embraced by all in Division I, particularly for those in key leadership positions.”
Among the changes recommended were expanding participation in postseason tournaments, more sport-by-sport governance, increased athlete involvement in decision-making, and creating more consistent experiences for student-athletes throughout the country.
Other organization members have also called for universal governance of name, image, and likeness policies, as policies vary from state to state, and some use the organization for purposes other than its intention.
Rather than being a tool to benefit the student-athletes’ development, it has been used as a recruiting mechanism and has become more of a “pay-for-play” practice.
“I do believe that there are serious issues with just letting this train run without doing something to deal with the consequences that are currently facing college sports,” commented incoming President Charlie Baker, who will officially head the NCAA in March.
The panel recommended expanding postseason tournaments to include 25% of the teams participating in the sport, which could expand the annual NCAA Basketball Tournament from 68 to as many as 90 teams.
When the report was made public last week, panel participant and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer stated, “Each sport will have the opportunity to take a look, comprehensively, at what the impact of expanded brackets might be and whether or not it’s something they should pursue for their particular championship.”
The panel further suggested that schools be required to provide a “direct pathway for full-time clinical services of a licensed mental health professional exclusively dedicated to serving student-athletes.”
Also considered was whether schools and conferences should implement student advisory boards. The panel discussed whether coaches should be required to have more training and certification for accountability.
The board also approved a new 32-team women’s basketball tournament similar to the men’s National Invitation Tournament as part of an effort to provide equal postseason opportunities funded by the NCAA.