The scandal-plagued NCAA is moving swiftly to clean up its image.
On Thursday, the Division I Board of Directors approved a package of sweeping reforms that gives conferences the option of adding more money to scholarship offers, schools the opportunity to award scholarships for multiple years, imposes tougher academic standards on recruits and changes the summer basketball recruiting model.
"It was one of the most aggressive and fullest agendas the board has [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] ever faced," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "They moved with dispatch on it, and I think they're taking positive steps for schools and student-athletes."
For decades, outsiders have debated whether college scholarships should include more than just the cost of tuition, room and board, books and fees. Now they can.
The board approved a measure allowing conferences to vote on providing up to $2,000 in spending money, or what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance. Emmert insists it is not pay-for-play, merely the reintroduction of a stipend that existed for college athletes until [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] 1972. He also compared it to the stipends received by other students who receive non-athletic scholarships.
Some thought the total amount should have been higher. At the Big Ten's basketball media day in Chicago, Commissioner Jim Delany said studies have shown the average athlete pays roughly $3,000 to $4,000 out of his or her own pocket in college costs.
Schools must pay the cost of additional funding, and it will have to be doled out equally to men's and women's athletes because of Title IX rules. While BCS schools have the money and are expected to swiftly approve additional funding, it might prove too [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] costly for non-BCS schools.
There are fears it will increase the disparity between the haves and the have-nots and could prompt another round of conference realignment.
The board also approved a measure that will give individual schools the authority to award scholarships on a multiple-year basis.
Under the current model, those scholarships are renewed annually [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and can be revoked for any reason. If adopted, schools could guarantee scholarships for the player's entire career and would be unable to revoke them based solely on athletic performance. Scholarships could still be pulled for reasons such as poor grades, academic misconduct or other forms of improper behavior.
Some other proposals approved by the board:
-- Beginning in 2012-13, teams must hit 900 on the Academic Progress Rate over four years or have an average of 930 over the two most recent years to be eligible for postseason play. In 2014-15, teams must have a four-year score of 930 or a 940 average in the two most recent years. In 2015-16, everybody has to hit 930, no exceptions. There will be waivers and appeals, though they will be kept to a minimum. The board also agreed to include the APR cutline in bowl licensing [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] agreements, making it enforceable in football, too. Schools that miss the APR cutline could face reductions in practice time, game reductions, coaching suspensions, scholarship reductions and restricted NCAA membership.
UConn's men's NCAA title-winning basketball team could be the first team to feel the impact.
The team posted an 826 last year, and a UConn official has said this year's mark will be approximately 975. It would give Connecticut a two-year score of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5 - both too low to make the basketball tourney.
-- Beginning in August 2012, high school seniors will need a 2.3 GPA in 16 core courses, instead of the current 2.0 GPA, and must complete 10 of those classes before their senior year. Junior college transfers would need a 2.5 GPA and can only count two physical education credits toward eligibility. Students who meet the current standards but not the new ones will be given an "academic redshirt" year in which they will be on scholarship and can practice with the team but cannot travel or participate in games. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
-- Instead of having 20 evaluation days in July and none in April, coaches will have four evaluation days in April and 12 in July. In addition, coaches will be allowed more contact with their players during the summer, with details to be worked out. The change also means coaches can make unlimited calls or send unlimited text messages to prep recruits after June 15 at the end of their sophomore year.