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The 4 things to know about the new NCAA's autonomy structure

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The governing body is tweaking its rules to give more power to the five big conferences, but outside forces might still do more to change college sports.

Schools with big budgets like Alabama's will be able to offer players new benefits. Schools with small budgets like Chattanooga's won't have to do the same.
Schools with big budgets like Alabama's will be able to offer players new benefits. Schools with small budgets like Chattanooga's won't have to do the same.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After months of lobbying and tweaking, the NCAA's new autonomy proposal has passed. The new set of rules represents the most substantive change of rules in the history of the organization. Basically, the bigger schools will have more power than ever to determine how they operate, which will at some point mean increased benefits for players.

Here's a look at the biggest autonomy questions and what it means for your team and the future of the sport.

[This story was updated after January 17's autonomy vote.]

1. What new rules will we see?

Four main changes happened Saturday:

2. Who can make their own rules?

The power conferences can make their own rules, but those changes will also be available to smaller schools. This would make sure strong programs in those conferences — UConn basketball, for example — wouldn't be put at a recruiting disadvantage. But it would also ensure smaller schools that can't afford these benefits don't have to pay them.

However, there will also be rules that are passed by all of Division I that will live outside of the autonomous structure, including rules regarding scholarship limits, time demands, and athlete health.

3. What is the voting process?

The power conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) can pass their own legislation. This involves voting by the 65 schools, 15 player representatives, and the conferences themselves.

New rules can be approved either by 60 percent of the 65 power schools and 15 player representatives (48 votes) and three of the power conferences or by 51 percent of the 65 power schools and 15 player representatives (41 votes) and four of the power conferences.

The votes of the players and the schools are counted together in the same group.

4. Will this help the NCAA keep the lawsuits off its back?

Since the autonomy structure is not really autonomy — just more streamlined collusion — and still does not permit schools to give athletes monetary benefits, it will have no effect on the lawsuits. While athletes might be treated better, the Kessler lawsuit still claims NCAA collusion is keeping prices low and not allowing schools to give athletes what the market says they deserve, so they will not give up their lawsuits.