After a two-day summit to discuss potential changes to the NCAA's structure, comments made by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany indicated that there may not need to be a Division IV after all.
A solution could be found to preserve the NCAA as it is:
"We've at least preliminarily concluded we don't want to leave the NCAA, and we don't need a Division IV," Delany said. "We can be in a big tent if we can get the appropriate matter of political redistribution. We can have an (NCAA men's basketball) tournament, everyone can be in it. We can do revenue sharing. We can all brand together. We can all be Division I together. We can all have a big tent.
A large motivator around the restructuring talks is because the Big 5 conferences -- the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12 and SEC -- have the means to cover things like full cost-of-attendance, which other schools are not in a financially feasible position to do.
Delany -- who has always been one of the first to sound off on new ideas -- said that in order for the NCAA to exist as is, those schools that can afford the full cost-of-attendance must be allowed to do so, without forcing those same requirements onto smaller ones:
"...the conditions for [retaining Division I] are that we need the political autonomy and the political authority to address things we must address on behalf of our student-athletes, on behalf of our universities. We have the resources to do it, and we need the authority to do it. How that happens, we'll work that out over the next weeks and months. ...
"We don't want to draw lines and put certain people in and certain people out."
Still, an actual plan is not in place yet, although the proposal currently being floated involves a two-tiered sort of system, with the Big 5 conferences holding more control in the decision-making process and smaller conferences being free to enact rules if they are able. Implementing this system would require agreement and a vote from both presidents and athletic directors of those smaller schools.
A subcommittee of seven Board of Directors will reportedly continue working on a new governance structure over the next few months, which will also need to address things beyond student-athlete compensation, such as academic standards across the NCAA, and third party contact.
The debate around this restructuring has gone on for months. A statement from Division I ADs ripped the idea of pay-for-play reform back in September, and the Division I Leadership Council is strongly against splitting up Division I at all.
Based on Delany's comments, they may not have to.