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NCAA proposes creation of new subdivision with direct compensation for athletes​

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - SEPTEMBER 09: Seth McLaughlin #56 of the Alabama Crimson Tide lines-up over the ball during the first quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 09, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Nicole Auerbach
2h ago

NCAA president Charlie Baker on Tuesday proposed the creation of a new subdivision within Division I that would allow the highest-resource schools the ability to compensate athletes directly through a trust fund and direct name, image and likeness (NIL) payments.
The groundbreaking proposal was sent out to Division I members and obtained by The Athletic on Tuesday morning, and it included the following recommendations:
  • The formation of a new subdivision made up of institutions with the highest resources that can directly compensate athletes through an “enhanced educational trust fund,” which requires the schools that opt into it an investment of at least $30,000 per year per athlete for at least half of the school’s eligible athletes. Schools would have to adhere to Title IX, providing equal monetary opportunities to both female and male athletes.
  • Schools in the new subdivision could create their own rules separate from the rest of D-I, and those rules would allow them the ability to address policies such as scholarship limits and roster size as well as transfers and NIL.
  • Any Division I school would be able to enter into an NIL deal with its athletes directly, which is not currently permissible.
  • Any Division I school would be able to distribute to any athlete funding related to educational benefits without any caps on such compensation.
These recommendations from Baker come amid mounting pressure to allow schools to directly compensate their athletes, and as the NCAA is facing significant legal challenges to its model. In the letter to D-I members, Baker called his proposal a “forward-looking framework” that “gives the educational institutions with the most visibility, the most financial resources and the biggest brands an opportunity to choose to operate with a different set of rules that more accurately reflect their scale and their operating model.”

Schools in both Division I subdivisions would compete against one another for NCAA championships, except for in FBS football, which is run and governed by the College Football Playoff. It’s clear, though Baker doesn’t spell it out, that the highest-resourced schools he is referring to throughout the letter are those in the Power 4 leagues — the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12. Commissioners of the four conferences have recently been lobbying Congress together, seeking help on issues such as NIL that affect their constituents in a far different way than their peers at lower levels of Division I.
The new proposed model “kick-starts a long-overdue conversation among the membership that focuses on the differences that exist between schools, conferences and divisions and how to create more permissive and flexible rules across the NCAA that put student-athletes first,” Baker wrote in the letter. “Colleges and universities need to be more flexible, and the NCAA needs to be more flexible, too.”
Presumably, this would be a subdivision within the FBS, similar to the oft-discussed power-conference split.
Baker ended his letter by asking Division I members for feedback.
(Photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)
I wonder if this will peel off the Vanderbilts and Northwesterns of the world from their conferences.
That’s exactly what I was thinking. In other words, it would be the elimination of conferences as we know them. Vanderbilt will never win a NC in football or basketball but they have in baseball. Their baseball program is funded by the revenue they get from the conference. This proposal will kill the little schools.
When it was announced that Tex and OU were headed to the SEC....I figured it was a matter of time. With the NIL the have's and the have nots divide will only widen. The NCAA is trying their hardest to keep their hands in the kiddy. Probably when and not if there are 4-16 team super conferences, I could see those 64 teams splitting off and telling the NCAA to go pound sand. If that were to happen, I'm sure Basketball (the NCAA cash cow) would follow suit and would leave out the Gonzaga's and Loyola's of the world. Could be super convoluted. This will get interesting before all the dust settles, especially in this world where everyone needs to be included.
This proposal will kill the little schools.
But let's be candid: the existing model has long been wasteful. The whole enterprise and architecture of men's and women's intercollegiate sports suckles from only a few tits. And the participants of the revenue generating sports want to get what belongs to them. The more they take (and public opinion has now changed in favor of this), the less remains to be redistributed to fund other wasteful sports that no one cares about ultimately underwritten by taxes (state and federal) that fund higher education and keep it going even while the market is demanding fewer and fewer degrees. The first domino, imo, other than declining youth participation in football is declining student enrollment in higher ed, particularly at full-time status. As one who has worked in higher ed, we are downstream from the bursting of the higher education bubble.
So football prices will continue to skyrocket, pricing out the average fan because football will have to foot an even GREATER bill for Title IX sports that are already sucking on the teat that's dangling from the window of Nick Saban's office in the MM Facility.

They need to create a big fat asterisk for revenue-generating FOOTBALL and BASKETBALL programs only.

Eh, who am I kidding.

They'd be better off repealing Title IX.
I haven't read the proposal: just seen blurbs here and there about what it's based upon.

Opt in or opt out options for schools is one of the headlines that caught my attention. It's almost as if he's proposing relegation.
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