College football’s rich could be set to get richer this summer.
According to ESPN’s Heather Dinich (h/t College Football Talk's Kevin McGuire), a sub-committee of the NCAA’s Division I board of directors proposed a governance model granting more autonomy to the five power conferences—SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC—which could be in place by August.
The board’s chair, Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, elaborated on it all, per Dinich's report:
"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."
With this model in place, the five aforementioned conferences would have the power to make certain legislative decisions by themselves.
The main striking point would be the issue of scholarship costs. More specifically, the ability to provide athletes the full cost of attendance and to grant ongoing education scholarships.
Full cost of attendance would allow athletes to have miscellaneous costs covered that their athletic scholarships currently do not. At the time, no set dollar amount has been suggested.
The ongoing education aspect is another benefit for the student-athletes. This would allow them to leave school for a period of time without foregoing their scholarship.
For example, if a student-athlete left early for the NFL, he would still retain the academic portion of his scholarship and could return to graduate at a later date.
Furthermore, the board also desires to have the athletic directors of these conferences more involved in the NCAA’s rule-making process.
There’s no doubt this new structure grants the power conferences more freedom. But just how much freedom they receive is still under discussion.
“There’s a range of things that would not be under autonomy,” Hatch said. “Trying to distinguish what is and what isn’t is our current challenge. We hope the board can approve this by the summer.”
Throw in the fact that Northwestern players are trying to start a union movement, and it all makes for what should be one interesting offseason.