Pac-12 university presidents seek changes for student-athletes

May 20, 2014, 11:10 a.m.

In a development that could hasten major change in the current NCAA student-athlete experience, the university presidents from Pac-12 schools have written a joint letter to their counterparts at the other so-called power conferences — the ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and SEC — that calls for a significant overhaul of the NCAA framework.

“We acknowledge the core objectives could prove to be expensive and controversial, but the risks of inaction or moving too slowly are far greater,” the letter states. “The time for tinkering with the rules and making small adjustments is over.”

The document, which was obtained by media outlets Tuesday night, lists 10 proposed changes to NCAA rules and to how the five conferences act within them. Among the proposals are changes to the maximum amount of hours per week athletes are allowed to practice. The current limit of 20 hours when a sport is in season is often exceeded without impunity, forcing student-athletes to miss out on various academic, social and other on-campus opportunities.

In addition, the letter calls for a relaxation of restrictive transfer rules that force athletes to lose a year of eligibility if their former schools refuse to release them from their scholarships.

Another change described in the letter is “provid[ing] student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and NCAA levels,” a proposal which has heightened salience given the increasingly profitable nature of collegiate athletics. The presidents also want the NBA to reassess its minimum age of 19 years, a rule that has given root to the “one and done” trend seen in the past five to 10 years. This proposal goes along with the presidents’ goal to “reassert the academic primacy of our mission.”

But perhaps the most important proposed amendment to NCAA rules outlined in the letter has to do with uncapping and raising the dollar amount of scholarships so that they not only cover room, board and tuition but also the everyday expenses that college students incur.

The idea of providing student-athletes an extra stipend has been in the works for years, but the larger, more well-endowed Division I schools have been consistently outvoted by their more numerous, smaller and less financially endowed peers. This tension feeds into the power conferences’ desire to have more autonomy within the NCAA, so change in the organizational structure of the Mark Emmert-led institution may also be on the horizon.

Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’

Cameron Miller is a sports desk editor for The Stanford Daily's Vol. 246 and is the men's and women's golf writer. He also writes on NCAA-related matters. Cameron is also a Stanford student-athlete, competing on the cross country and track and field teams. He is originally from Bakersfield, California, but spends most of his time away from the Farm on the state's Central Coast. Contact him at [email protected].

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