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NCAA votes in drastic reform

Schools can give spending money

Associated Press / October 28, 2011

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The scandal-plagued NCAA is moving to clean up its image.

The Division 1 Board of Directors approved a package of sweeping reforms yesterday that gives conferences the option of adding more money to scholarship offers, schools the opportunity to award scholarships for multiple years, imposes tougher academic standards on recruits, and changes the summer basketball recruiting model.

“It was one of the most aggressive and fullest agendas the board has ever faced,’’ NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “They moved with dispatch on it, and I think they’re taking positive steps for schools and student-athletes.’’

For decades, there’s been a debate whether scholarships should include more than the cost of tuition, room and board, books, and fees. Now they can.

The board approved a measure allowing conferences to vote on providing up to $2,000 in spending money, or what the NCAA calls the full cost-of-attendance. Emmert insists it is not pay-for-play, merely the reintroduction of a stipend that existed for athletes until 1972.

Schools must infer the cost of additional funding and it will have to be doled out equally to men’s and women’s athletes because of Title IX rules. While BCS schools have the money and are expected to swiftly approve additional funding, it may prove too costly for non-BCS schools.

There are fears it will increase the disparity between the haves and the have-nots and could prompt another round of conference realignment.

The board also approved a measure that will give schools the authority to award scholarships on a multiple-year basis. Under the current model, those scholarships are renewed annually and can be revoked for any reason. If adopted, schools could guarantee scholarships for the player’s entire career and would be unable to revoke it based solely on athletic performance. Scholarships could still be pulled for reasons such as poor grades, academic misconduct, or other forms of improper behavior.

In August, the NCAA’s board approved raising the four-year Academic Progress Rate cutline from 900 to 930 and linking that cutline to eligibility for postseason play. It passed a four-year plan yesterday to phase in the new requirements.

During the first two years, 2012-13 and 2013-14, teams scoring below 900 on the four-year average would be ineligible for postseason play unless they averaged 930 on the two most recent years. In 2014-15, teams that do not hit the 930 mark would be ineligible unless they averaged 940 in the two most recent years. After that, everyone must hit 930, no exceptions.

Schools that do not make the grade could also face additional penalties such as reductions in practice time and game limits, coaches suspensions, and scholarship reductions. It will apply to football teams, too.

UConn’s men’s basketball team could be the first team to feel the impact. After posting an 826 last year, a UConn official has said this year’s mark will be approximately 975. It would give Connecticut a two-year score of 900.5 and a four-year average of 888.5 - both too low to make the 2013 NCAA tournament.