“The NCAA could soon allow individual conferences to decide for themselves whether they want to pay athletes more and award them longer scholarship terms.”

August 10th, 2011

Well, good.

Demand for such proposals came out of the first day of an NCAA presidential retreat on reform Tuesday. NCAA chief Mark Emmert said the group is operating with “an extreme sense of urgency” and would like to vote on new rule proposals as early as October and no later than January. . . .

If the rules pass, each Division I conference would have the option to award bigger, longer scholarships to athletes. That would represent a sea change from previous NCAA philosophy, in which all schools in the same division were supposed to play by the same rules and policies.

Emmert said questions still need to be answered about potentially “huge implications for competitive equity and not having people game that system.” But he said that a level playing field in college sports is already a myth.

“We have athletic departments with $5 million total budgets and schools with $145 million total budgets,” he said. “Schools have huge variations right now in terms of things they can provide for student-athletes, like training facilities, game-day environment and all of that. So most people think that a change in that basic scholarship structure wouldn’t have much of an impact on competitive equity, but it’s something we want to watch.”

So how would it work?

Cost of attendance has become a buzz word in recent months in college sports, as studies have shown that current scholarships on average fall about $3,000 short of the real-world expenses a student-athlete incurs per year. SEC commissioner Mike Slive proposed this summer that schools should award four-year scholarships to recruits instead of the current, one-year renewable grants.

Stay tuned.