NCAA President Outlines New “Forward-Thinking” Subdivision Proposal

by SwimSwam Contributors 21

December 05th, 2023 College, Industry, News

Courtesy: Robert Dickson

NCAA President Charlie Baker sent a letter on Tuesday morning to all Division I members outlining a proposal for a new subdivision that would loosen the NCAA’s stance on amateurism and permit schools to provide compensation to their student-athletes.

President Baker cites the many financial and operational differences not only between Division I schools, but across all three levels of college sports. Division I schools spend between $5 million and $250 million annually on their athletics programs. There are 59 Division I schools that spend over $100 million annually on their athletics programs. On the other end of the spectrum, 98 percent of Division II and Division III schools spend less than $20 million annually on their athletics programs.

With these discrepancies in mind, Baker proposed a new, “forward-looking framework” for college sports.

Under this framework, two dramatic changes would need to be initially implemented. First, it would be possible for all Division I colleges and universities to offer their athletes any level of enhanced educational benefits they deem appropriate. Currently, schools are limited to the amounts provided by the Supreme Court in NCAA v. Alston. Second, rules should change for any Division I school, at their discretion, to enter into name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities directly with their student-athletes.

“These two changes will enhance the financial opportunities available to all Division I student-athletes,” Baker wrote.

Third, a subdivision comprised of the wealthiest schools would be required to do two things:

  1. While complying with Title IX regulations, invest at least $30,000 per year into a trust fund for at least half of the institution’s student-athletes.
  2. Work with the NCAA staff and other schools that decide to opt-in to the subdivision to create rules that are different from the rest of the Division I schools.

This proposal comes while the NCAA is engaged in multiple legal battles involving compensation and the rights of student-athletes. Most significant of those battles is House v. NCAA, where the NCAA is fighting an uphill battle that could leave them and the Power Five conferences on the hook for over $4 billion in NIL back pay and broadcasting revenue payments. Baker’s proposal is likely an attempt to limit future litigation with athletes over compensation matters.

This new model “gives the NCAA a chance to propose a better way to support student-athletes at the highest revenue schools by providing significant financial support to student-athletes in revenue positive and nonrevenue sports alike,” Baker wrote. Remaining atop of college sports is important for the NCAA amid a growing dialogue that some schools should break off from the governing body and self-regulate.

One significant topic not addressed in President Baker’s letter is the employee status of student-athletes under this new subdivision. This is a hot topic in college sports that is being heard in two NLRB matters as well as in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania in Johnson v. NCAA. The NCAA would likely seek an antitrust exemption from Congress that says student-athletes cannot be employees of their universities.

This proposal is without a doubt the most dramatic compensation model that the NCAA has proposed and a sign that the landscape of college athletics is set to change.

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Wethorn
2 months ago

If this is passed, I think it’s the death bell for men’s Olympic sports. All money will go to football, men’s basketball, maybe baseball, and enough female athletes to meet Title IX requirements.

PBJSwimming
Reply to  Wethorn
2 months ago

Unless the minimum sport rule is changed, I believe that many Olympic sports will be spared the axe, because schools need to meet the minimum number of sports. “Division I member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender.”
https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2013/11/20/divisional-differences-and-the-history-of-multidivision-classification.aspx

Last edited 2 months ago by PBJSwimming
Coach
Reply to  PBJSwimming
2 months ago

I think it’s highly likely the minimum sports requirements go or are reduced.

Wethorn
Reply to  PBJSwimming
2 months ago

Thanks for pointing that out. Unfortunately it’s something that could be easily changed.

kazoo
2 months ago

Why, after 100 years or whatever of intercollegiate athletics, is it suddenly necessary to pay student-athletes–especially those playing football and basketball who are already getting FULL, 4-year scholarships worth at least $250,000?? It’s complete nonsense. The NCAA president claims the new proposal “enhances the student-athletes ability to earn money…” blah, blah. More nonsense. I thought college was about getting a degree–not making money. Silly me. Commercialism and greed is ruining college sports—and the greed has now trickled down to not only the athletes but even high-school prospects and transfers. It’s a freakin’ mess—seedy.

theroboticrichardsimmons
Reply to  kazoo
2 months ago

Commercialization and greed is already in college sports, but all the financial windfall is being hoovered up by TV networks, conferences, athletic departments, and football coaches. If football coaches can get multi-year contacts worth tens of millions of dollars, surely the players on the field – the people actually providing the product making everyone else money – deserve to earn their fair market rate for the work they’re doing. And I gotta tell ya, for a lot of these athletes, it’s a hell of a lot more than $250k over four years

hillbilly
Reply to  kazoo
2 months ago

Wah wah wah, the NCAA has exploited these athletes for far too long. And boomers love to whine about FrEe EdUcAtIoN, but the fact is, the education is normally crap. If coaches can make millions of their athletes, it’s past due that the athletes get their piece of the pie

Meeeee
Reply to  hillbilly
2 months ago

No. The Boomers have seen it all and realize better than most what works and what will make things worse. Its like having a kid, until you have been through it you really don’t know. But when you get to today’s Boomer’s age you will know.

Not saying the intentions here are not well-intended, but there are always unintended consequences. This Boomer’s gut is that this is wrought with potential unintended consequences. For instance, my intuition is there will soon be an NFL sub-league (that may include colleges) and NCAA football will not have the level of athletes they currently do. Essentially good D2 players will fill the D1 ranks. And as mentioned above, this will in no way have… Read more »

Brian
2 months ago
  1. While complying with Title IX regulations, invest at least $30,000 per year into a trust fund for at least half of the institution’s student-athletes.

Does this mean that women athletes will need to get 30k per year in the trust fund to comply with title IX?
Might actually be huge news for Women’s swimming. Thats a big amount of money.

Alex Wilson
2 months ago

In sports such as track & field,wrestling,swimming there are many students, both American and foreign, studying at Division 1 schools that have and will continue to win prize money at meets and tournaments. The NCAA should all such winnings and endorsements to be placed in Trust Funds for these athletes with rules on what expenses could be paid by these trust funds prior to graduation. One reason that Michael Phelps never competed at the college level was he could not afford the loss of money from competitions such as the Olympics. In my view this is unfair to the athletes.

OceanMotion
2 months ago

Here Lies College Swimming
“Roll on You Bears”
R.I.P

chazoozle
2 months ago

I feel like universities are just going to do away with sports at some point with all these headaches. Unless they are still making that much money from them.

Admin
Reply to  chazoozle
2 months ago

I think some will.

But in general, you live with headaches that produce $251 million a year in revenue, plus an uncountable marketing value for the university.

My wife and I had a long conversation two weeks ago when we were in France. She attended three universities: Texas A&M University, the University of Rennes, and McGill University. This means that her college cultural experiences have run a MASSIVE gambit from the biggest of the biggest football culture rahrah to where it’s a totally non-existent thing.

She, as someone who doesn’t give two toots about football, says that the cultural experience and value of sports in the American collegiate culture is obvious to her. Nobody cares where you went to college… Read more »

swimgeek
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

100% True Braden — but note that you’re referencing college football. You’re not talking about college swimming (even though you LOVE swimming!). As the key money sports take on more focus and way more cost (it’s gonna be pricey to pay all of those football/basketball player SALARIES) . . . I fear this eventually be the death of college swimming as we know it.

Admin
Reply to  swimgeek
2 months ago

Maybe, maybe not – but what you’re talking about is not the idea that I was responding to.

kazoo
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

Cultural value? There’s nothing cultural about it. College football is crazy and corrupt and is being ruined by rampant commericialism—and, by the way, nowhere more so than at Texas A&M, a school that just agreed to pay a man $76 MILLION to stop a man from coaching the football team. Ha: cultural values? That is completely, utterly absurd. College football is basically professional football now. I was a student-athlete at an SEC school–and I used to snicker at the Ivies because they were so small-time in sports. But as I watch what major-college sports is becoming, it’s abundantly clear that the Ivies have the correct perspective on college sports.

Admin
Reply to  kazoo
2 months ago

Setting aside your personal feelings about it all (which I’d agree with to a degree, especially about my alma mater), all of that still adds up to attention, publicity, and resources for the university’s academic and research missions.

Meeeee
Reply to  kazoo
2 months ago

But the wrong perspective on everything else.

Swim Dad
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

100% agree with Braden. There is a significant spillover effect from sports to your university attachment. I am afraid we are headed to two superconferences in the Big 10 and SEC with 20 or so members each centered around football. Those schools will be able to afford full Olympic sports at the collegiate level. Most other schools Olympic sports will become club sports. Unfortunately, I thinks this day is approaching very rapidly.

RealSlimThomas
2 months ago

“ChatGPT explain it to me like I am 10”

Absolutely! Here’s a more advanced explanation:

Think of the NCAA, the organization that oversees college sports, like a group managing different levels of businesses, from large corporations to smaller companies. The President of the NCAA proposed some major changes in how these “businesses” handle their student-athletes.

First, they want to allow the big colleges to offer more perks, like extra educational benefits or increased money, to their athletes. Right now, there are limits on what they can give, but this change would let them offer more.

Second, they want these big colleges to be able to make deals directly with their athletes for things like using their names or images to… Read more »

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
2 months ago

Note, the “more advanced” part in the beginning is because I originally asked for a 5 year old explanation. There was too much talk of toys…