The NCAA’s transition committee recommends expanding post-season access, and the athletic committees

The NCAA Division I Transformation Committee, the body charged with charting the course for Division I’s future over the past year, has completed its final report and submitted its reform recommendations to the DI board. The board has been briefed but the recommendations will be formally considered at their meeting next week at the NCAA Annual Conference.

Among the recommendations were a push for DI’s collegiate sports sponsorships of more than 200 institutions to consider expanding their post-season fields — paving the way for sports like basketball and baseball to expand their leagues, if desired — and advice that football governance remain under the jurisdiction of the NCAA.

“We made a critical choice early on to maintain the ‘big tent’ approach to Division One,” transformation committee co-chairs Julie Cromer and Greg Sankey wrote in the report. “While the breadth and diversity of Division I presents challenges, it is also an essential part of the charm of college sports. In the committee’s view—and in the view of most outside voices who have joined us—breaking out Division I would harm what is vital and necessary in sports undergraduate.

“As long as their universities can meet minimum expectations in terms of the support they provide, ultimately we want as many student-athletes as possible to begin each season with Division I national championship dreams.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Transformation Commission recommends that DI’s collegiate sports sponsored by more than 200 organizations attempt to implement a postseason that includes the 25 percent of teams that meet the Division I standard in the sport. Final decisions on changes to the size of the postseason bracket for each sport must be approved by that sport’s governing body by January 2024 for implementation in the 2024-25 school year.
  • The committee also recommends the formation of sports management committees. Each Division I sport that has a national championship will have its own entity, and these management committees will have decision-making power and the ability to move quickly without bureaucratic delay.
  • A new requirement recommends that all Division I schools provide medical coverage for athletics-related injuries for a minimum of two years after graduation or completion of an athletics experience. This requirement would be part of a more “inclusive” benefits model for athletes. Another part of the new model would require schools to pay athletes who were on full scholarships to earn their degrees within 10 years of leaving school.

Other Noteworthy Recommendations: The group recommended that FBS revisit football attendance requirements “with an emphasis on other elements that directly relate the student-athlete experience to expectations for FBS membership standards.” The NCAA requires an average attendance of 15,000 fans per game once every two years to maintain the status of the FBS, a measure intended to stimulate investment in football, but calls for the condition to be lifted have gained momentum in recent years.

The committee decided not to change the minimum number of sponsored sports to be a Division I member at this time, but recommended that the Board direct the appropriate entities for future review, “including consideration of a model in which organizations are not allowed to count sports toward meeting the threshold.” It is a requirement of sports sponsorship unless you show some level of financial commitment to student-athlete scholarships in that sport.”

Tournament sizes

Each sport’s demand for postseason implementation is large enough that the 25 percent of the organizations it sponsors may end up with different results for different sports. What makes sense for one may not be for another.

What will happen to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? it’s a question Almost everyone in college sports has thrown up at some point during the past six months, and the answers vary depending on who you talk to. Do the math, and 25 percent of the 363 teams will lead to a field of about 90 teams. But an inflated arc may not be deterministic. The next step in this process will be in the hands of the sport’s stakeholders.

“Their considerations should take into account impacts on the timing of the postseason, the overall length of the postseason, necessary changes in format, broadcast and other partners, budgetary resources, and implications for the management of the host entity’s event,” the commission’s report states.

This issue will now go to those responsible for the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee for an initial review by June 2023 and a final recommendation by January 2024 for implementation in March 2025, if any changes are agreed upon.

governance reform

The most significant change in the governance structure is the formation of Sports Management Committees, which will be empowered to control their individual sport without approval from the multiple layers of bureaucracy synonymous with the current NCAA model.

“A lot of other sports don’t have oversight groups,” Cromer said, “and now, they’ll have the opportunity to take a bigger hand in shaping the future of their sports at the collegiate level — which I think is great.” the athlete in December. “Whether it’s two years, three years, four years, five years, you will start to see different rules for different sports that make sense for them specifically. They will be able to run faster and be more responsive for their sports. This is a huge step forward, especially with Some other work we’ve done to try to help support the Olympic movement.”

Athlete Experience and Athlete Participation

The committee’s report stresses the importance of standardizing the experience of Division I players, regardless of school, sport, and gender. By setting expectations (that is, minimum requirements) for Division I members, the hope is to ensure that athletes get the support they need in areas ranging from academic services to medical coverage to mental health resources.

The Student-Athlete Comprehensive Benefits Model includes eight areas that schools are urged to adhere to, including required medical coverage for injuries for a minimum of two years after graduation, assistance with out-of-pocket medical expenses and full ability-athletes scholarships to complete their studies within 10 years who dropped out of school. Other requirements include increased services in areas such as none, financial literacy and job preparation. There are also tournament recommendations that increase the amount of money spent on travel.

The committee also called for increased direct participation of athletes at every level of their sports governance structures.

Topics for future consideration

Cromer and Sankey have tried to manage expectations for the commission over the past year — and especially in recent months — so that officials and fans are not disappointed in their work to reform college sports. They did not ask to be labeled “transformational”. Some of their previous reform efforts, regarding transfer windows and the process for NCAA infractions, were frustrated after calls for sweeping change came from both within and outside the collegiate structure.

For the biggest topics that the Transformation Committee has talked about but could not address at present, the committee hopes that the Board will either address them themselves or designate other entities for consideration in the future. These topics include the use of agents, athletes’ participation in professional drafts, and whether the NCAA’s revenue distribution formula will be tied to league performance in sports other than men’s basketball.

Perhaps the most significant changes are changes to roster limits and/or scholarship limits, topics that could be considered again under the new sport management committees. Other issues associated with broader decentralization and deregulation will also continue.

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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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