Say Goodbye to Division IV

In my opinion, Division IV was like Texas threatening to leave the Big XII; it was never going to happen. Texas wanted Longhorn Network and all the money that came with it, and the Power 5 (the ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) want autonomy within the confines of the NCAA.

This week at SEC Media Days, Commissioner Mike Slive didn’t mince words:

“If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student-athletes.”

Two months ago, at the SEC’s spring meetings, Slive said essentially the same thing.

Then today the NCAA released a statement regarding the latest proposal from its steering committee for Division I governance restructuring. It’s probably not a coincidence that the new proposal favors the Power 5 more than the last proposal offered up in April, making it easier for those five to pass their own rules.

The Board of Directors

Under the new proposal, there would be a 24-member Board of Directors, which include presidents from each of the 10 FBS football conferences. Here’s the breakdown given in the NCAA statement:

Five presidents from the five major conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pacific 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference)

Five presidents from the remaining five Football Bowl Subdivision Conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference)

Five presidents from the Football Championship Subdivision

Five presidents from Division I schools without football

Chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Chair of the Council (the governance body charged with the day-to-day work of the division, intended to be an athletics director), a Division I member of the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association appointed by the group’s executive board and a campus senior woman athletics representative chosen by the executive committee of the National Association for Collegiate Woman Athletics Administrators.

The Council

In addition to every FBS conference having a representative on the Board of Directors, the FBS football conferences will have 56.3 percent of the total vote on the Council (a separate body from the Board of Directors which would be charged with day-to-day operations). Here’s the full breakdown of the voting percentages for the Council:

37.5 percent for the five major conferences

18.8 percent for the five remaining FBS conferences

37.5 percent for the FCS and Division I (no football) conferences

3.1 percent for the student-athletes

3.1 percent for the designated faculty athletics representatives

One of the major changes would be student athletes finally getting a vote. As you’ll see below, they’ll also have a vote in the Power 5’s autonomy structure.

Here’s how “autonomy” works

As part of the new governance structure, the Power 5 would have the power to vote on and pass some matters by themselves. That’s the “autonomy” part you keep hearing about.

What would those matters be? The Board of Directors does have some say-so in that area. For the Power 5 to have autonomy over an area, three of the Power 5 would have to agree, and 12 of the 20 presidents/chancellors on the Board of Directors would have to approve of moving the item to the autonomy list.

So, let’s say for example the Power 5 want to go to full cost of attendance. At least three of the five conferences would have to be in favor and 12 of the 20 presidents/chancellors on the Board of Directors would have to approve. Since there are only five presidents/chancellors from the Power 5 on the Board of Directors, that would mean getting votes from presidents/chancellors at other FBS schools, FCS schools or non-football schools.

The announcement even came with a handy infographic showing what autonomy could look like:


Fifteen student athletes would represent 18.75 percent of the total vote.

What’s next?

The current Board of Directors will vote on the proposed governance structure on August 7.  If approved, a 60-day override period would begin wherein the board would have to reconsider the rule change if at least 75 schools requested an override. If 125 or more schools requested an override, the rule would be suspended until the board met again to reconsider. If the board still wanted to continue forward with the rule thereafter it would go to a vote of the full division (with each school getting one vote under the current system) and a five-eighths majority could defeat the rule. The multiyear scholarship rule barely survived a full Division I override vote a couple of years ago.

How soon could we see change?

The steering committee, charged with developing the new governance structure, has agreed to allow the Power 5 until October 1 to draft the first set of proposals they want to be considered, and potentially adopted, at the 2015 NCAA Convention being held January 15-18 in Washington, D.C.

Written by Kristi Dosh