INDIANAPOLIS – NCAA member schools and conventions voted Thursday to adopt a new, repealed constitution, the first step in decentralizing an institution facing growing challenges in the relevance of the institution as the main body in collegiate sports.
But the debate over the association’s adoption of a new charter, which will empower schools and conventions, alludes to an increasingly stark divide between the mission and financial strength of thousands of different organizations – from a soccer powerhouse like the Georgia national champion and amateur athletes. at places like Grinnell College.
That gap promises to be highlighted as the three NCAA divisions reveal details of how they will overhaul themselves in the coming months.
Then especially in Division I, when the wealthiest schools – like Texas and Ohio State, have sports budgets of up to $200 million – and their conferences will push for a greater influence on how they operate, unburdened by the central management of the NCAA.
The revised constitution easily passed the two-thirds threshold needed to be approved, garnering 80% of the 1,016 votes cast by conventions and member schools. It will go into effect on August 1.
The new charter is a response to a particularly tumultuous 2021, amid the pandemic, including placing Gender inequality in Division I men’s and women’s basketball leaguesenactment of state laws that allows athletes to monetize their popularityand Congress waving about what went wrong with college sports.
However, the most jarring moment came last June when Supreme Court, in deciding a case that helps clear the way for education-related payments and benefits, all but offering a direct challenge to the NCAA’s ban on direct payments to player. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh took aim at the NCAA, arguing that the organization was violating antitrust rules.
NCAA President Mark Emmert, in a Thursday speech delivered remotely as he said he was constrained by the coronavirus rules, described the new charter as less like a constitution than a declaring independence from a business practice that no longer works. Last year, he made it clear that “if we don’t rise to the challenge now in this critical moment, others are willing to do so,” referring to the courts and legislature.
The new constitution will replace the current edition – but notably not the 463-page Division I rule book, Emmert said. , and care for athletes’ physical and mental health. It also maintains that college athletes should not be treated as employees, something that would strike the heart of the entire business.
The new constitution is supported by the NCAA’s Board of Governors, a 25-person committee that charted the direction of the organization.
That committee took a step Wednesday night to update its policy on transgender athletes who will be required to have a testosterone test, starting with the winter sports championships beginning. in March. The move is intended to bring the NCAA in line with national (or world federations) federations that set standards for acceptable testosterone levels in their sports in the United States. Previously, the NCAA required only transgender women to receive testosterone suppression therapy for one calendar year prior to competing in women’s athletics.
An NCAA spokesman said the organization did not know how many athletes the new rule would affect.
The issue received recent attention with the performance of Lia Thomas, a swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania who has placed first nationally this season in the women’s 200 meters and 500 meters freestyle. after playing previously for the school’s boys’ team. team.
USA Swimming said in a statement that it is working on new policies with the sport’s international federation, FINA, and envisions new guidelines for elite sports “in the meantime.” short time”.
But most discussions among administrators at the five-day congress, which began Tuesday, revolved around a new constitution, about a third as thick as the existing one.
Robert M. Gates, the former U.S. Secretary of Defense, scrapped the first draft of the new constitution in one weekend, closing 12 and a half two-wordly spaced pages at his home in Washington State. (It eventually grew to 19 pages.)
That relative pace gave some opponents pause, who heard their voices Thursday in the open session ahead of the vote.
George Bright, athletic director at Elizabeth City State, a historic college for blacks in North Carolina, has criticized the new constitution calling for HBCUs to be represented on the Board of Governors – but with a mandate way as a member disagrees. “When you cast off the HBCU vote, you eliminate our chance,” he told a conference center and virtual audience, using separate but equal images.
Betsy Mitchell, Caltech’s athletic director and former Olympic swimming medalist, criticized the process as rushed and orchestrated by a small team. She calls the poll a charade.
At the heart of it is a question: Who of its members will now lead the NCAA?
Division I schools generated 96% of the $18.9 billion in college athletics earnings in fiscal year 2019, but those 358 schools are more than 2nd Division II and III schools. against 1, those who add up also have much more athletes. and whose agenda is far different from the widely known football and basketball powerhouses.
“We were just virtual kale on a Division I burger, who noted that Division III carried the banner for the student-athlete term,” said Hiram Chodosh, president of Claremont McKenna College in California.
He wittily notes that the college sports industry is being built on a foundation of unpaid athletes, that “without the rest of us, it might start to look like a business.” Commerce”.
However, there was enough in the proposal to garner the support of the majority of Branches II and III schools.
The Lean Constitution will “untie some of the knots that, if you want to call it, prohibit divisions from doing some of the things they want to do,” said Shane Lyons, West Virginia athletic director who serves on the Board. administration, said. of the Governors and the Board of Directors of Block I.
Any transformative changes will begin to take shape in the coming weeks, says Lyons, as Division I, II and III committees begin to lay out greater autonomy. The Division I committee will begin examining issues like enforcement, revenue distribution, hiring schedules, and anything else that might be covered in the key rule book.
Julie Cromer, athletic director at Ohio University and co-chair of the committee with Southeast Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, said there were some on the committee that wanted to get through it with a scalpel. Others, she said, prefer to throw it in the bonfire and start over.
But in Division I, not everyone has a say in the committee responsible for running a new future. There are 32 conferences – 11 of which will be left out.
Talya Minsberg and Alan Blinder contribution report.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/sports/ncaafootball/ncaa-constitution-transgender-athletes.html NCAA reorganizes around new constitution transferring power to universities