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N.C.A.A. Looks to Rewrite Its Constitution and Stave Off Critics

N.C.A.A. Looks to Rewrite Its Constitution and Stave Off Critics
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N.C.A.A. Looks to Rewrite Its Constitution and Stave Off Critics

N.C.A.A. Looks to Rewrite Its Constitution and Stave Off Critics

The NCAA, with its authority restricted by the Supreme Court, its conferences scrambling for influence and its deeply uncertain future, said Friday it would seek to rewrite its constitution.

The decision by the NCAA Board of Governors to call what it has described as a “special constitutional convention” by Nov. 15 could prove to be a spark for a major overhaul of college sports management. But the association has a long history of fighting for change, and it’s far from clear that any NCAA overhaul will satisfy its critics within the multibillion-dollar industry or, equally crucially, them. courts and legislators who have examined it.

The NCAA announcement came 15 days after its president, Mark Emmert, began publicly calling for a reorganization of the largest college sports governing body in the United States, and just over a month after a unanimous Supreme Court decision made the association more vulnerable. in antitrust litigation.

“I think it’s really the changing legal environment, the economic environment, the political environment that creates this opportunity in a lot of ways to stop, erase the board and draw a new chart again,” Emmert told the reporters on a conference call Friday. “It’s a really, really powerful opportunity. “

It is also perhaps the best chance for the NCAA to retain some power over an industry that has recently – but especially after the Supreme Court ruling – been skeptical of the association and its strategy for college sports.

“I tried really hard to understand and asked to be briefed on the structures of the NCAA, and I still cannot understand why it is structured this way,” said George Kliavkoff, the new conference commissioner. Pac-12. , said in an interview this week. He noted the big differences between college athletic programs nationwide and predicted that one day there wouldn’t be “one monolith on all these different business models.”

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A top-down assessment of the NCAA constitution could be a step in that direction. The nonprofit group’s constitution, which typically generates over $ 1 billion in revenue per year, contains dozens of pages and devotes itself to matters as mundane as annual dues ($ 900 for conferences) and as central as amateurism and sportsmanship.

A 22-person committee, which is expected to include figures such as university presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners, will be appointed in the coming weeks to assess ideas on how to change it. This panel’s list, whenever made public, could indicate whether the association is heading for cosmetic changes or a radical reimagining – perhaps by blowing up a system that includes three separate divisions, or perhaps giving greater influence to leagues.

Emmert said he doubted the committee would suggest abandoning the NCAA fundamentals, but said that “that doesn’t mean they won’t be changed in one way or another, and that ‘they could be considerably different “.

The association has come under heavy criticism for its pace of change as to whether college athletes can make money from their fame. He is looking to hold final votes on all constitution proposals in January, when a convention is scheduled to be held in Indianapolis. But the NCAA is already undergoing a change, moving from the steadfast defenses of its model and power to a more overtly conciliatory approach.

Robert M. Gates, the former Secretary of Defense who is now a member of the NCAA board of directors, described the upcoming debate as perhaps defining the association’s future place in American sport.

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“Until we can better align the association’s mission with its authority, the NCAA will not be able to play the role it should play in college sports governance,” said Gates, former president of Texas A&M. , in a press release. “We cannot continue as we are.”

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