The “Big 5” Athletic Conferences granted autonomy by the NCAA will meet this weekend to discuss and vote on proposals that could change the landscape of college athletics.
The 5 major conferences – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – were granted autonomy by the NCAA last summer, allowing them more freedom to govern themselves and create their own rules for college athletics. The move was a response to the growing criticism of the NCAA by those looking to procure more benefits, both financial and otherwise, for college athletes.
In that vein, the group of 80 representatives will include a voting representative from each of the 65 member schools, but also 15 student athletes, each of whom gets their own vote on the various proposals.
The student-athlete representatives are listed below, per a press release by the Big Ten Conference. No swimmers are included in the 15, but there are a number of non-revenue/Olympic sports represented:
Name Institution Sport
Patrick Andrews Clemson Baseball
Kaila Barber Notre Dame Track and Field
Ty Darlington Oklahoma Football
Diamond DeShields Tennessee Women’s Basketball
Ben-Marvin Egel Purdue Men’s Golf
McKenzie Fechter Washington Women’s Gymnastics
Chris Hawthorne Minnesota Football
Jay Hughes Mississippi State Football
Taylor James California Women’s Rowing
Anthony Lyons, Jr. Texas Tech Baseball
Nandi Mehta Northwestern Women’s Soccer
Kene Orjioke UCLA Football
Artie Rowell Pittsburgh Football
Maddie Stein Kansas Softball
Josh Tobias Florida Baseball
The Big Ten press release indicates that the group will meet twice on Saturday, January 17 at the NCAA Convention. Between the two meetings, they’ll vote on 8 proposals and 1 resolution, described by the conference as focusing on “the issues of cost of attendance, loss-of-value insurance, scholarship renewal, and concussion safety.”
In order to pass, the proposals will need either:
- 60% of all votes, plus votes from a majority of schools in 3 of the 5 conferences
- 50% of all votes, plus votes from a majority of schools in 4 of the 5 conferences
Possibly the biggest eventual outcome of autonomy could be the paying of college athletes, especially in revenue-producing sports like football and basketball, where critics say scholarships alone don’t fairly compensate athletes for the huge amount of revenue they produce for their schools and the NCAA.
The effect of all of this on swimming is still up in the air, as many of the possible benefits (4-year guaranteed scholarships, improved athlete heath insurance) would help college swimmers, but many fear that allowing payment of football and basketball players would cause schools to cut Olympic sports like swimming to trim their budgets.