The NCAA Division I Board of Directors today restructured how schools and conferences will govern themselves, paving the way for student-athletes to have a voice - and a vote - at every level of decision-making.
"This is an opportunity for historic change in college athletics," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. "Now we can go to work to begin to better address the needs of our student-athletes."
The 16-2 vote adopted the updated Division I model that was released to the membership last month. Board members changed little from that proposal, only reducing the number of conferences required to sponsor a proposal within the group of five conferences from three to one (what is currently required to sponsor Division I legislation). Any amendment is subject to approval by a five-conference presidential group before consideration by the full voting group. The steering committee, which will continue as a transition committee, indicated it was open to tweaks over the next year.
"Today's vote marks a significant step into a brighter future for Division I athletics," said Nathan Hatch, board chair and Wake Forest University president, who also chaired the steering committee that redesigned the structure. "We hope this decision not only will allow us to focus more intently on the well-being of our student-athletes but also preserve the tradition of Division I as a diverse and inclusive group of schools competing together on college athletics' biggest stage."
NCAA President Mark Emmert praised the results of more than 18 months of work.
"I am immensely proud of the work done by the membership. The new governance model represents a compromise on all sides that will better serve our members and, most importantly, our student-athletes," Emmert said. "These changes will help all our schools better support the young people who come to college to play sports while earning a degree."
Much of the conversation among the presidents on the board emphasized the need for presidents to retain leadership of athletics, both on their campuses and within the NCAA, for the restructuring to be successful.