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NCAA Transformation Committee Recommends Expanded Playoff Access, Athletics Committee

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The NCAA Division I Transformation Committee, the entity tasked with charting a course for the future of Division I over the past year, has completed its final report and submitted its recommendations for reform to the Board of Directors. administration of DI. The board of directors has been briefed but will formally consider the recommendations when they meet next week at the NCAA’s annual convention.

Among the recommendations was a push for DI team sports sponsored by more than 200 institutions to consider expanding their post-season fields – paving the way for sports such as basketball and baseball to expand their tournaments, if desired – and advice that the governance of football remains under the jurisdiction of the NCAA.

“There’s a certain magic in college sports that can’t be easily described,” said Transformation Committee co-chair Julie Cromer. “We think the big tent – ​​a large and diverse I division – is part of that magic. It’s worth working on the issues we see today to keep it intact.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Transformation Committee recommends that DI team sports sponsored by more than 200 institutions try to implement a post-season that includes 25% of teams that meet the Division I standard in the sport. Final decisions on changes to the size of each sport’s post-season bracket are expected to be approved by that sport’s governing body by January 2024 for implementation in the 2024 academic year- 25.
  • The committee also recommends the formation of sport-specific management committees. Each Division I sport that has a national championship will have its own entity, and these management committees will have decision-making authority and the ability to act quickly without bureaucratic delays.
  • He recommends a new requirement that all Division I schools provide medical coverage for athletic-related injuries for at least two years after graduation or completion of athletic experience. The requirement would be part of a more “holistic” athlete benefit model. Another part of the new model would require schools to pay for athletes on full scholarships to graduate within 10 years of leaving school.

Other recommendations of note: The group recommended that FBS reconsider its football participation requirement “while focusing on other elements that more directly tie the student-athlete experience to the expectations of the FBS membership criteria “. NCAA requires an average attendance of 15,000 fans per game once every two years To maintain FBS status, a measure intended to encourage investment in football, but calls for the requirement to be lifted have gained momentum in recent years.

The committee decided not to change the minimum number of sports sponsored to be a Division I member at this time, but recommended that the board direct that it be reviewed in the future, “including review of a model in which entities are not permitted to count a sport towards meeting minimum sport sponsorship requirements unless it demonstrates some level of financial commitment to student-athlete scholarships in that sport.

Championship sizes

Asking each sport to put together a post-season large enough to include 25% of its sponsoring institutions can end up with different results for different sports. What makes sense to one person may not make sense to another.

What will happen to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? It’s a question almost everyone in college sports posed at some point in the last six months, and the answers vary depending on who you talk to. Do the math, and 25% of the 363 teams would lead to a field of about 90 teams. But a swollen support may not be inevitable. The next step in this process will be in the hands of sports stakeholders.

“Their considerations should take into account impacts on the playoff schedule, total duration of the playoffs, necessary format changes, broadcast and other partners, budgetary resources and event management implications of the entity. host,” the committee’s report said.

This matter will now be submitted to the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee officials for initial review by June 2023 and final recommendation by January 2024 for implementation in March 2025, if changes are agreed upon.

“It is a positive step in decision-making that these recommendations land with the various sport management committees, assuming they are adopted in a new structure,” said Cromer, who also sits on the oversight committee of the sport. men’s basketball DI. “Each sport will have the opportunity to thoroughly consider the impact the expanded brackets might have and whether or not this is something they should pursue for their particular championship.”

Government reform

The most significant change to the governance structure is the formation of Athletic Management Committees, which will be empowered to govern their individual sport without approval from the multiple layers of bureaucracy synonymous with the current NCAA model.

“So many other sports don’t have watchdog groups, and now they will have the opportunity to play a bigger role in shaping the future of their sports at the collegiate level – which I think is great.” , Cromer said. Athleticism in December. “Whether it’s two years, three, four or five years, you’ll start to see different rules for different sports that make more sense specifically for them. They will be able to work faster and be more responsive to their sport. It’s a huge step forward, especially with some of the other work we’ve done to help support the Olympic movement.

Athlete Experience and Athlete Engagement

The committee’s report highlights the importance of creating a consistent experience for Division I athletes, regardless of school, sport and gender. By setting expectations (i.e. minimum requirements) for Division I members, the hope is to ensure that athletes have the support they need in areas ranging from academic services to medical coverage to mental health resources.

The “holistic student-athlete benefits model” includes eight areas that schools are asked to commit to, including required medical coverage for injuries for at least two years after graduation, assistance with out-of-pocket medical expenses and the possibility for full-time athletes to graduate within 10 years of completing their studies. Other requirements would include increased services in areas such as NIL, financial literacy and career readiness. There are also league-related recommendations that increase the amount of money spent on travel.

The committee also called for an increase in the direct involvement of athletes at every level of their sports’ governance structures.

Topics to consider later

Cromer and co-chair Greg Sankey have tried to manage committee expectations throughout the past year — and especially in recent months — so that administrators and fans won’t be disappointed with their work to reform college sports. They didn’t ask to be labeled “transformers”. Some of their earlier reform efforts, on transfer windows and the NCAA’s infraction process, were dashed after calls for sweeping change came from inside and outside the collegiate structure.

For the most important topics that the transformation committee has discussed but has not been able to address at this time, the committee hopes that the board will address them itself or designate other entities to review them. in the future. These topics include the use of agents, athlete participation in professional drafts and whether to tie the NCAA’s revenue distribution formula to league performance in sports other than men’s basketball. A new NCAA Subcommittee on Congressional Engagement will take on some of the responsibility for advancing issues where the NCAA cannot force changes on itself.

“We need a cohesive national framework for image and name likeness activity,” Sankey said. The reality is that the NCAA does not have the legal authority to address some of these items at this time. That’s part of the reason the NCAA’s transformation doesn’t end with this report. It moves on to a new phase.

Of the unfinished business, perhaps the most significant would be changes to roster limits and/or purse caps, matters that may be revisited under the new sport management committees. Other topics related to broader decentralization and deregulation will also be postponed.

“It’s a milestone, not a finish line,” Cromer said. “The work of transforming the NCAA must continue, and it will be an ongoing effort.”

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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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