August possible for new structure
A seven-member steering committee with the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors is working to provide wealthier conferences with "a range" of autonomy -- namely the freedom to provide athletes the full cost of scholarships -- and hopes to have a new structure in place by August, said the board's chair, Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch.
"We're not talking about full autonomy," Hatch told ESPN.com. "We're talking about a range of issues."
Hatch said he is confident change is imminent.
"It definitely will" change, he said. "Membership can vote it down, but this has been a huge process. ... The board last fall had a whole day of hearings. We've talked to coaches, students, athletic directors, big schools, small schools, the Knight Commission, faculty-athletic representatives, and I think we can craft a compromise that makes the board more nimble, more strategic, in some ways more like a confederation that allows big schools certain ways to expend some of their new revenue on behalf of student-athletes."
Hatch said another prominent focus has been making athletic directors more directly and heavily involved in the NCAA's rule-making. Over time, many of those responsibilities have been delegated to university presidents and chancellors. Hatch said that the 18-member board, which meets four times a year, will recommend that it be smaller and more strategic, and that there be a council comprised mainly of athletic directors "that does the nuts and bolts of business in the NCAA."
"There's been kind of a retreat of fundamental involvement by the athletic directors, who are the people on our campuses who make all of this work," Hatch said.
"We've been engaged heavily with them in this process and they have been very responsive. To give them a more integral role in NCAA governance is critical."
"They welcome it," he said. "We're doing that very much in dialogue with them."
Hatch said that under the new structure, the bigger conferences would have more flexibility, but just how much more is what the committee is in the process of determining. They wouldn't, for example, be allowed to change academic standards, or allow more scholarships for a given sport.
"There's a range of things that would not be under autonomy," he said. "Trying to distinguish what is and what isn't is our current challenge. We hope the board can approve this by the summer."