NCAA grants unprecedented Power Five autonomy

The Division I Board of Directors passed a vote to give its five power conferences an unprecedented level of legislative autonomy Thursday afternoon in Indianapolis.

The vote—which passed by a 16-2 margin—gives the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC's member institutions the ability to provide never-before-seen benefits to its athletes in conjunction with their scholarship agreements. The move for autonomy for the Power Five comes on the heels of months of discussions about the full cost of athlete attendance and a possible secession from Division I athletics.

"I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement issued by the organization. "The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes. These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree."

The power conferences have until Oct. 1 to create a list of issues they want to handle on their own. Items on that list will need to be approved by three of the five power-conference reps and 12 of the 20 presidents or chancellors on the expanded board of directors.

Timeline: How the rollout of autonomous legislation will work

One representative from each of the 65 members institutions of the five leagues will vote on the issues along with three student-athletes from each conference. Passage of those measures would be contingent upon 60 percent of the 80 votes and a simple majority from three of the five conferences or a simple majority of 41 votes with a simple majority from four of the five conferences.

Infographic: How Power Five legislation can pass

The autonomy legislation could still be overturned in the next 60 days, but that appears unlikely at this time.

“The approval of the steering committee’s report on restructuring by the NCAA Board of Directors is a positive and necessary step in the continued efforts to ensure that we have a more effective and nimble NCAA moving forward. These changes will allow us to continue to prioritize how to better address the needs of our institutions, athletic programs and, most importantly, our student-athletes," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement issued by the league. "As we implement the new structure, we must continue to recognize how special the collegiate model is to the educational system within our country and culture.”

In addition to calculating full cost of attendance for scholarships, other potential items to be explored by the Power Five include expansion of healthcare for student-athletes, money for continuing education and four-year guaranteed scholarships.

The conferences could begin submitting legislation in October and passing it in January 2015. The earliest legislation could become effective would be for the 2015-16 academic year.

New legislation proposed for the entirety of Division I will be addressed by a newly-formed council, 37.5 percent of which will be comprised of representatives from Power Five conferences. That fives the Power Five more than twice as much voting power as any other group that comprises the more than 280 other Division I institutions.

Infographic: A look at the new Division I general council


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