Landslide Vote Passes New, Streamlined NCAA Constitution

Change continues to wash over the collegiate sports landscape, and this week’s actions from the NCAA will continue to pave the way for massive change in the way college sports are run and managed.

On Thursday, the organization approved a new, streamlined and pared-down Constitution that is long on mission statements and overviews, but short on details and rules as to how athletics will be organized, operated and monitored outside of the running of national championship events. Most of the remaining operations of the organization are being pushed down to its Division I, II and III levels, with the charge that each will be responsible for making its own rules in those areas. The vote was 801-195 in favor of ratification of the new document, which runs just 20 1/2 pages.

Five items headline the “Divisions” section of the new 2022 NCAA Constitution, and in those brief sentences power over much of the structure of college sports is ceded to each of the current three divisions – and perhaps more if members see fit.

1. Each division shall have independent authority to organize itself, consistent with the principles of the Association. Each division is authorized to structure itself as it deems necessary, including creation of sub-divisions or creation of a new division and determination of membership eligibility for these new organizations, including the role of conferences. New divisions or sub-divisions must be self-funded by the originating division.

2. Each division shall set standards for academic eligibility.

3. Each division shall determine its own governing structure and membership.

4. Each division shall establish guidelines regarding student-athlete benefits, including commercialization of name, image or likeness and to prevent exploitation of student-athletes or abuses by individuals or organizations not subject to the authority of the student-athlete’s school.

5. Each division shall establish policies and procedures for enforcement of Association and division rules and regulations, and the Association will provide requested support for divisional implementation.

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The new constitution is simply another step on the path that has been opened up by NIL, unrestricted one-time transfers, the Alston case and more. All of those groundbreaking areas and decisions are transformative in their own right, and combined with the new constitution, will result in a college sports landscape that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

The one point in which the NCAA held firm is in direct payment of student-athletes by its member schools:

Student-athletes may not be compensated by a member institution for participating in a sport, but may receive educational and other benefits in accordance with guidelines established by their NCAA division.

However, that restriction will be a difficult one to parse and work with, as no one set of rules currently exists for the management of NIL. The NCAA has been pushing for a national law set by Congress, but that’s about as likely at this point as agreement on filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. For now, NIL remains a mostly open landscape, as a handful of NCAA inquiries into what appeared to be school involvement in paying players under the guise of NIL have gone nowhere.

The Constitution also pushes down the areas of rule-setting, compliance and enforcement to each division, including what appears to be a well-meaning mandate to cooperate with investigations, but which has no teeth behind it:

Each division shall determine the methods of investigation and adjudication to hold accountable its members whose representatives engage in behaviors that violate the rules and principles approved by the membership.

Member institutions shall cooperate fully in all accountability measures established by the applicable division and shall take all necessary measures to ensure the cooperation of their staff, student-athletes, and institutional representatives.

The upshot of the new constitution? At the NCAA’s highest level, focus will be put on conducting championships, setting rules for the games on the fields and courts, providing for student-athletes’ mental health, promoting gender equity and diversity and removing any perceived limits on their earning potential. A Transition Committee by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio Director of Athletics Julie Cromer is now charged with coming up with all of the other rules that will govern college sports on each Division’s level in the coming years – the next massive step in what will continue to be the most transformative era since the establishment of the NCAA back in 1906.

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Home Page forums Landslide Vote Passes New, Streamlined NCAA Constitution

Home Page forums Landslide Vote Passes New, Streamlined NCAA Constitution