NCAA reforming, so what does it mean for the Mountain West

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The NCAA is making changes to help let the power five conferences, and maybe other leagues, some wiggle room in different rules.

April 24 finally happened, and no one was surprised one bit. Everyone knew that NCAA reform was coming down the pipeline for months, and possibly years. It is one step closer to happening. The NCAA drafted a press release to discuss the early stages of reform  within its organization.

The short version is that it will allow the power five conferences more autonomy to play by somewhat different rules, but it is not mutually exclusive to those leagues. Here are the main talking points from the power five:

  • Financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;
  • Insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;
  • Academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and
  • Other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

There will be other things at stake but these are the big one's. Also, not noted in the bullet point is the ability for scholarship athletes to get jobs or careers outside of football such as writing a book or art, per the release, but that could turn into a slippery slope.

Also, there actually was a change made to transfer rules where a player who moves to another school still has to sit out a year but then has six years to play four.

As for who will be involved there will be representation across the board in college football:

New voices would be added: the chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; the chair of a new group tentatively called the Council; and the most senior Division I member of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association's executive committee. The council chair would always be an athletics director, giving that constituency an automatic spot on the board. [...]

The council, composed of at least 60 percent athletics directors, would have 38 members: one from each conference plus two voting student-athletes and four commissioners (one from the five highest profile Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, one from the remaining FBS conferences, one from the Football Championship Subdivision conferences and one from the remaining conferences).. The council would be the final voice on shared-governance rule-making decisions.

[...]

In order to allow the five highest-resource conferences (the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big Ten Conference, Pac-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference) to address their unique challenges, the model would grant them autonomy to make rules on specific matters affecting the interests of student-athletes.

The non-power five conferences would still get a voice at the table but they do not have to agree with certain measures such as providing full cost of attendance for, let's be real here, football or basketball players, but do allow the power leagues to have that option. Yet, they can go along with their athletes getting jobs or other things that may not cost any money or very little.

Just because this proposal is going to give the power five conferences more options to their athletes as described it does not allow them to change the rules entirely. Some things that the small conferences would likely not want to pass are increasing roster sizes, extremely lax transfer rules or extremely large player stipends which far exceed the discussed $2,000 per academic year.

Another item that is not mentioned at all is while not every conference has the ability to provide these new benefits within a conference, what if some individual schools do. For example, say Boise State wants to keep up with their on the field success and they feel a player stipend that the power five agree upon is feasible at the school, yet the Mountain West as a conference elects not do do so. The question becomes can this be a school-by-school basis if the conference says no to a proposal.

This could be an issue because then there the few independents out there like Notre Dame who can easily afford and likely will be included in the group of five, and then BYU who is closer to the Mountain West than the power leagues, but they probably have the money to offer what the bigger conferences are able to offer.

It seems likely at this proposal stage that it will be a league-by-league basis but look for former Big East schools now playing football in the American and some Mountain West schools to see if they can adopt some of these changes even if their league's say no.

Then there is the obvious divide between the power five to the group of five, but that has always been the case since Alabama and Texas have always been able to offer a better situation than UNLV or Western Kentucky. So, this almost remains status quo for some schools, but the divide will have a larger gap making any elite school in the have-nots have a more difficult time competing with these bigger leagues for recruits and thus making a run at the four-team college football playoff even more of a pipe dream.

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