Athlete Welfare, Giving More Governing Power to Schools Among NCAA Restructuring Goals

The NCAA announced a dramatic restructuring of its constitution on Monday, giving the three divisions the power to govern themselves and better provide athlete welfare for the unique needs of each division, the Associated Press reported.

NCAA President Mark Emmert saw the need for a new constitution in August, after the Supreme Court ruled against the association and left it vulnerable to more legal challenges. The new constitution is Emmert's first phase of transforming the NCAA in a way to give more power to schools and conferences, instead of the Indianapolis-based association.

The NCAA released an 18 1/2-page draft of the constitution, cut down from 43 pages over the last three months of revisions, and focuses on the NCAA's goals of athlete welfare more than the previous one.

The new constitution still needs to go to the more than 1,200 member schools for feedback, and could be amended before it is put before the full membership for a vote in January. The goal is to have changes in place in less than a year.

"The ratification of a new constitution in January is the first step in the process of transforming NCAA governance. A new constitution will provide the divisions the flexibility they need to act," said Jack DiGioia, chairman of the NCAA Board of Governors and the president of Georgetown University.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

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The NCAA announced a dramatic restructuring of its constitution on Monday, giving the three divisions the power to govern themselves and better provide athlete welfare for the unique needs of each division. Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Most important, it would provide Division I—the highest level of college sports that includes major college football and the 351 schools eligible for the lucrative men's basketball tournament—the autonomy to reshape everything from how revenue is shared to how rules are made and enforced.

"Once we got into this, we really found out that many of the issues were the Division I level," West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, the chairman of the Division I Council and a member of the constitution committee, told AP.

The new constitution shrinks the NCAA's highest governing body, the Board of Governors, from 21 members to nine and changes its duties.

"The question is going to be asked: What is the new role and responsibilities of the board of governance? That's still all three divisions, but their priorities and what they would be doing would be just those very, very high level issues of the association, as opposed to some of the things they have been getting involved in right now," Lyons said.

The next phase figures to be more contentious, at least at the highest level of college sport.

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer will lead the Division I Transformation Committee, which has already begun exploring ways to restructure.

Lyons is also a member of that committee.

"There's a huge gap in Division I with schools roughly with $175 million budgets and schools with $4 million budgets," Lyons said. "A lot of times we've tried to legislate from an equality standpoint. Is there possibly a new division? Is there a Division Four? Do some schools break away and make a Division Four, and what is the membership requirements?

"So those are the things that we're really going to have to get to the granular spot, and some of those are going to be very difficult conversations to have."