NCAA talks realignment, paying student-athletes

SMU President and Co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics talks about recent new considerations by the NCAA for student-athletes.


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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