Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

Nearly five months after a unanimous defeat at the Supreme Court, the N.C.A.A. will hold a special convention on Monday as it looks to rewrite its constitution and limit its legal risks in the future.

Delegates will consider a proposal that Robert M. Gates, a former defense secretary and former Texas A&M president, and a committee of conference commissioners, athletic directors, university presidents and athletes prepared in recent months.

“I don’t know about the word ‘transformational,’ but I think it represents pretty dramatic change in a number of different areas,” Gates, an N.C.A.A. board member who wrote the first draft of the proposal himself one weekend, said in an interview with The New York Times on Thursday.

Here is a look at what the Gates committee came up with, and the path ahead for the N.C.A.A., which could vote on a new constitution in January.

Would athletes be allowed to make money?
Yes and no.

The draft calls for students to be able to make money off their fame through activities like endorsement deals and autograph signings, a concept known in the college sports industry as name, image and likeness activity. But students have been able to do that since July, when an interim N.C.A.A. policy took effect after a wave of state laws forced the association’s hand. The rewritten constitution would make the stopgap changes more permanent.

As usual, the N.C.A.A. is looking to forbid schools from paying players directly, and the draft calls for the association to declare that students “may not be compensated by a member institution for participating in a sport.”

But in a concession to the Supreme Court decision in June, the proposal says students should be allowed to receive “educational benefits,” including cash awards for academic achievement, in addition to whatever money they are able to earn off their names, images and likenesses.

Still, Jordan Bohannon, a men’s basketball player at Iowa, said the proposal’s limits made it inadequate.

“This is America, and college athletes have rights and freedoms that the N.C.A.A. cannot deny,” he said in a statement released by the National College Players Association.

The group’s executive director, Ramogi Huma, said that the proposal amounted to “more of the same from the N.C.A.A.” and that it would spark “more of the same from us — pursuing governmental action to fight for justice.”

So what might be different?
Each N.C.A.A. division — including Division I, whose brand-name schools and enormous revenues dominate public perceptions of college athletics — may win the power to govern itself.

The draft says that each division should “have independent authority to organize itself,” within the limits of overarching N.C.A.A. principles like a ban on direct salaries, and that each could create new divisions or subdivisions. That kind of power could eventually pave the way for top-tier athletic powers to have their own rules and system but remain under the N.C.A.A.’s umbrella.

The three divisions are expected to finish initial rewrites of their rules by the start of the 2022-23 academic year.

The process for investigating and punishing N.C.A.A. rules violations could also change.

A critique of the existing rules enforcement system is that protracted inquiries can lead to punishments, like postseason bans, for players and coaches who had little or nothing to do with any violations. In response to that, the proposal calls for divisions to “ensure to the greatest extent possible that penalties imposed for infractions do not punish programs or student-athletes innocent” of any violations.

Anything else?
The Board of Governors, which has ultimate authority over the N.C.A.A. but has been criticized as detached, could shrink to nine voting members from 21. One of the nine would be a recently graduated athlete. (A smaller board was no given: Gates said his committee considered an array of models, including one that would have pushed the board’s size to 28 members.)

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