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NCAA council opposes Division I breakup, could support player benefits

The NCAA as we know it won't be the same for long.

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Next year, the NCAA will change. A major restructuring has been called for by the commissioners of almost every FBS power conference, with current NCAA president Mark Emmert agreeing.

The most frequently proposed alteration is a Division I split, breaking current FBS (or perhaps even BCS) conferences away from current FCS schools. The two groups' members tend to have vastly different budgets, priorities, and resources, and it no longer makes sense for the tiniest FCS school to have a say in what Alabama, Texas, or Ohio State can or cannot do -- if USC were to want to provide full-cost scholarships and allow players to take jobs and endorsements, why should a Pioneer League school get to overrule? Such a change has been formally proposed by a national faculty board.

The NCAA's fighting that shift, with the Division I Leadership Council releasing a statement Monday that says "the desire to keep the division intact without further subdivision was prevalent" at recent meetings. For what it's worth.

One encouraging note from the rest of the Council's release: some are coming around to modernizing treatment of players, perhaps in line with the goals laid out by the All Players United movement.

Many believe that student-athlete benefits, including a change in the definition of a full athletics scholarship to include the full cost of attendance, could be an area of compromise.  The majority of council members also agree that more autonomy could be provided in meals, student-athlete development - including academic support - and personnel limits.

Decentralization and more organic organization models are also being tossed around:

The group also discussed the roles of different governance bodies in the structure, debating the benefits and disadvantages of various models. All say that a presidentially led board of directors should be focused on long-range, strategic items and leave the day-to-day operations of Division I to the levels below them.

To support their position, council members repeatedly cited the success of smaller, more focused groups like those formed to create new recruiting models for men's and women's basketball and football.

In the end, it won't be up to the Division I Leadership Council. A new "Division 4" (the common man's working title) appears inevitable. But it's nice to note more professionals within the NCAA are warming to the idea of better supporting players, whether that involves splitting up the current party or not.

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