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Publish date: Dec 23, 2011

DI Board of Directors to reconsider multi-year scholarship legislation

By Michelle Brutlag Hosick

The Division I Board of Directors at its January meeting will reconsider legislation allowing schools to award athletics scholarships for more than one year because the required number of schools – 75 – have requested an override of the rule.

The measure was one of several the Board adopted as emergency legislation after NCAA President Mark Emmert called a presidential retreat in August to address concerns about the operation of Division I athletics.

The multi-year scholarships and miscellaneous expense allowance were two recommendations aimed at prioritizing student-athlete well-being. Allowing schools to award scholarships for more than a single year addresses concerns some student-athletes have about losing their aid after an injury, because their athletics performance did not live up to expectations, or because of coaching staff changes. If aid were guaranteed for more than a single year, student-athletes would have greater assurance their education could continue.

Schools requesting an override cite several reasons for disagreeing with the legislation, including a desire to award athletics aid the same way other aid throughout the university is awarded. Most academic and other scholarships must be renewed annually. Others believe the legislation could create a bidding war over certain recruits, and the additional monitoring required to make sure that teams don’t over-promise aid, especially in equivalency sports, could be burdensome.

The miscellaneous expense allowance legislation was suspended Dec. 15 after more than 125 schools requested an override of that rule. Any allowance offered during the early signing period in November will be honored. If the multi-year award legislation is suspended, as well, those agreements endorsed during the early signing period also will be honored. The deadline for override requests is Dec. 26.

Nearly 10,000 recruits signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, but it is not known how many schools offered both the miscellaneous expense allowance and multi-year awards to their prospective student-athletes.

The miscellaneous expense allowance legislation was enacted to give student-athletes the opportunity to receive additional athletics aid. The working group that recommended the miscellaneous expense allowance told the Board the $2,000 figure is meaningful in addressing the miscellaneous expenses student-athletes now have.

“Based on conversations I have had, I am confident that there remains a very high level of support for this permissive legislation to provide better support for our student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

Emmert also said he is confident that the way the legislation is implemented can be adjusted to address concerns raised by campus leaders.

“It is absolutely critical that we implement this legislation, for example, in a way that supports Title IX and women’s athletics programs,” Emmert said. “Modification of the legislation language can certainly achieve this essential requirement. Similarly, changes can be made that will clarify how this legislation can be implemented more smoothly and with less confusion.”

Pertaining to override action, the Board of Directors has several options. It can maintain its action, which will send the proposal to an override vote. It can agree with those requesting the override, which would rescind the proposal. The presidents can also amend the proposal in some way, which would subject the legislation to another 60-day override period.

The Board meets Jan. 14 at the NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.