NCAA Re-Shuffle: Is It Too FAR Out for Football?
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The winds of change were swirling in Dallas this past week, but it's yet to be seen what will be blown away.
At a meeting of 120 FBS athletic directors, a group of them known as the Division I-A Faculty Athletic Representatives (FAR) invited discussion on a proposal they presented to the NCAA administration on Wed 11 Sep.
The intent of the proposal is noble. Its thrust is to streamline the arcane and convoluted NCAA rule book for the big-brand schools and any other university that wishes to participate. Frankly, the criteria for inclusion boils down to budget. The FAR recommendations involve a more all-encompassing financial landscape for its members.
Cutting to the chase in that regard, the proposed FBS division -- so named because those are the affected schools -- wants to implement a provision that will cover a student-athlete's "full cost of attendance." However, this does not constitute support for a pay-for-play policy; in fact, the athletic directors are overwhelmingly against it.
For now, that term seems to be left intruigingly vague.
It appears the tone of these proposals is to find solutions within the existing facilities of the institutions. For example, perhaps expanding the hours of training tables can address the issue of better access to meals. The key is that a solution will focus on the 'student' portion of 'student-athlete.'
This was the focal point of Big Ten commissioner Bob Delany's recent comments. His remarks were more than a rejection of pay-for-play. They were an allusion to the point that hordes of major corporations who recruit students into their job force also contribute significantly to universities in the form of grants, fellowships, and donations. That a multi-billion dollar operation like the NFL doesn't has increasingly rankled a good number of athletic departments.
Perhaps one objective of the FAR proposal's streamlining the rules is to put this matter on the table forcefully. After all, colleges have given athletic scholarships since the 1880s, well before the NFL was around. It's clear they believe they can do quite well without the NFL again.
There's no groundswell for a split from the NCAA. The proposal includes an astounding fact: the Big Dance funds 90% of the governing body's activities, which include the vital student clearinghouse to confirm student-athlete eligibility. Besides, the NCAA provides benefits such as additional non-profit tax status for the schools.
FAR in essence states that big-brand football has its own set of circumstances, and the schools want more autonomy in how to deal with them. And, by inference, how to deal with those parties who they think should be more appreciative of what they have to offer.