GRAPEVINE, Texas — The NCAA Division I Board of Directors took the first step Saturday toward trying to simplify and deregulate the organization’s often complex and sometimes unenforceable rules.
They also publicly acknowledged the natural competitive advantages that some schools have over others, such as BCS champion Alabama compared to smaller Division I schools, while still in the context of the NCAA’s commitment to fair competition.
On the final day of the NCAA convention, the board approved 25 of 26 proposals in what is considered the most sweeping deregulation of the organization’s rulebook at a single time.
NCAA President Mark Emmert called it a singular accomplishment to make changes that “set a completely new tone” for the rules. He said they will give schools more responsibility and flexibility and “focus the rules on those things that are real threats to integrity of sport rather than things that are mostly annoying.”
Another of the proposals passed Saturday “acknowledges that variability will exist among members in advantages, including facilities, geographic location and resources and that such variability should not be justification for future legislation.”
Emmert said what was once one of the most heavily debated issues, and one a year ago he would have expected a “knock-down, drag-out” fight, has since become more common sense and had virtually no debate.
A year after the board delayed implementation of a $2,000 miscellaneous expense allowance for student-athletes to help cover the full cost of attendance, there was no new proposal for consideration on the issue.
Emmert, who supports the plan, said a working group dealing with stipend now has several considerations, including a model by which the expense would be available only for students who need it rather than every athlete regardless.
There is also the decision about whether such allowances would be available for only athletes on full scholarships or those with partial scholarships as well.
When talking about a needs-based proposal, Emmert used as an example his cousin who was a volleyball MVP at Washington.
“I know my cousin’s circumstances and she didn’t need it,” he said. “But there were other players on that team for whom that would probably have been very important.”
The original plan calling for the allowance was approved by the board in October 2011, but more than 160 schools signed on to override the legislation, putting it on hold before the board decided at last year’s NCAA convention to delay the plan.
Emmert said he expects “a very different debate” when the issue is brought up again later this year, possibly in April.