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NCAA talks realignment, paying student-athletes

Excerpt

The following was published in the Oct. 24, 2011, edition of Newsday. SMU President R. Gerald Turner provided expertise for this story.

November 1, 2011

By JOHN JEANSONNE

WASHINGTON -- NCAA president Mark Emmert, responding to what felt like an Occupy BCS protest by the watchdog Knight Commission, on Monday made it clear that his organization "does not have a role in conference affiliations and should never be in the business of telling universities what affiliations they should have."

But that declaration merely reinforced commission co-chair Brit Kirwan's "great concerns over the fragmented governing structure" in which football powers, in seeking the most affluent league alignments, are "wreaking havoc on a number of institutions" and their non-football athletes. Kirwan is president of the university system of Maryland.

During a three-hour session that included reports on the growing divide between spending on athletics and academics, Emmert announced pending requirements for stricter academic performance tied to teams' participation in postseason play; the likelihood of "redshirting'' freshmen until their grade-point averages improve and the possibility of paying some athletes up to $2,000 to bring their scholarship worth in line with the "cost of attendance."

A new floor of at least a 50-percent graduation rate, Emmert said, would have excluded seven teams from last year's NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, including national champion UConn, and was cheered by Monday's attendees. The $2,000 stipend faces some opposition. Knight co-chair Gerald Turner, the president of Southern Methodist University, reiterated that his group "has been very strong on student-athletes being student-athletes" and will continue to oppose what he called "pay for play."...

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