NCAA Transformation Committee Recommends Sport Committees, Bigger Championships

The NCAA Division I Transformation Committee released its final report and submitted its recommendations to the DI Board of Directors on Tuesday, with noteworthy changes proposed that could have a lasting impact on the world of college sports.

The committee’s final report will be discussed with the Board of Directors next week at the annual NCAA Convention in San Antonio.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio University Director of Athletics Julie Cromer, co-chairs of the 21-member committee, shared their thoughts on the recommendations made in the report.

“Over the past year, we’ve challenged Division I governance from every conceivable angle to increase speed and efficiency and generally ensure that student-athletes’ needs exist at the center of all structures and processes,” Sankey and Cromer wrote.

“This has included rigorous looks at how we approach the allocation of resources and investments; diversity, equity and inclusion; gender-specific issues; and elevating the student-athlete voice in institutional groups, among many other points of consideration.

“As a result, we’ve made a number of significant changes. While they are wide-ranging, I think you’ll see that they work to a few common ends.”

Among the key recommendations from the committee was for more sport-by-sport governance, with a request to have specific management committees for each Division I sport that has a national championship, giving each sport its own entity and therefore the decision-making power and ability to move quickly without bureaucratic delays.

“For instance, we’ve tried to inject flexibility and autonomy into Division I governance, most critically through decentralization of responsibility,” Sankey and Cromer continued. “An example will be the introduction of sport-specific management committees.

These decentralized management committees allow each sport greater powers of self-governance, resulting in a student-athlete experience more bespoke to their specific needs.”

Another noteworthy recommendation that will affect all student-athletes was to enhance health benefits, where each Division I school would be required to provide medical coverage for athletic-related injuries for a minimum of two years following graduation or completion of athletics experience.

This recommendation is part of a more holistic athlete benefits model that would also require schools to pay for athletes who were on full scholarships to get their degrees within 10 years of leaving school.

The recommendation making the most headlines in the world of college sports is the proposal to expand national championship events. In sports sponsored by more than 200 Division I schools, the proposal seeks to have a postseason that includes 25 percent of the teams—which would theoretically expand the NCAA March Madness tournament to 90 teams (363 schools sponsor men’s basketball), though it’s possible the tournament is viewed as its own entity in this regard.

In swimming, this change wouldn’t appear to be coming into play for a few different reasons—there are currently just under 200 D1 schools sponsoring at least one swim & dive program—though it could open up a different conversation about having championship spots allocated to different conferences.

Any increases in national championship size wouldn’t come into play until the 2024-25 season.

The committee decided against changing the minimum requirement of sports sponsored to be a Division I member, but did recommend that the board direct appropriate entities to review it in the near future. This would include consideration of a model “in which schools are not permitted to count a sport toward meeting minimum sport-sponsorship requirements unless it demonstrates a certain level of financial commitment to student-athlete scholarships in that sport.”

“Programs existing in perpetual limbo only for coaches and student-athletes far removed from violations suffering consequences is unjust and ineffective,” said Sankey and Cromer. “It hurts our credibility as an institution. We know a fix is needed, and we believe this gets us closer to the right outcome.


  • Swimming & diving was among the sports proposed to have the graduate assistant coach designation removed. It was reported in October that this would be voted on by the BOD.
  • A recommendation to require schools to create a “direct pathway for full-time clinical services of a licensed mental health professional exclusively dedicated to serving student-athletes.”
  • A recommendation for schools to create student-athlete advisory committees to give athletes a greater voice in making decisions.
  • A recommendation to expand permissible benefits to athletes to include more pay for travel, elite training outside of school, educational incidentals, and more money toward things like housing and food.
  • A new transfer window was proposed for four-year undergraduate student-athletes, with different timelines for fall, winter and spring sports. For winter sports such as swimming and diving, there would be a 60-day window beginning the day after championship selections are made in the sport. With NCAA Championship psych sheets and cutlines dropping in early March, that would give athletes up until early May to declare an intention to transfer.

Sankey and Cromer also addressed looming issues such as name, image and likeness standards, employment status of student-athletes, and the “unique interests of student-athletes in the highest revenue-generating athletic programs”.

They recognized that these issues largely rest with Congress and is not under the direct control of the NCAA.

“The NCAA is prepared and eager to engage on these issues,” they said. “There’s no question that finding fair, sustainable and equitable resolutions to each issue will be essential to Division I’s future. We simply need a clear, stable framework under which to address them.

“Congress is the only entity that can grant that stability. Since the next phase of NCAA transformation will hinge on these issues, the NCAA has initiated and established a Board of Governors Subcommittee on Congressional Engagement. The subcommittee will now take responsibility for the advancement of the unfinished pieces of the Transformation Committee’s work where the NCAA currently lacks the ability to self-impose changes on its own. The subcommittee will also lead the NCAA’s strategy for engaging, motivating and collaborating with Congress over the coming year.”

You can read the full report here.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

I would like for them to bring back / score 3 heats at NCAAs. I think it would make the meet more interesting.

Let’s go
2 months ago

Get rid of invitational, bring me March Madness with dual meets. This would be more exciting

Reply to  Let’s go
2 months ago

No I like it better when you get all the fast swimmers together at one time. Thats what makes it a big championship meet.

Last edited 2 months ago by Taa
Geo Durin
Reply to  Let’s go
2 months ago

This might be the worst take I have ever heard…

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »