A new kind of agreement between college players and their schools could bring fundamental changes to the balance of power in collegiate athletics.

It’s called the College Athletic Protection (or CAP) Agreement, and it’s what some are calling the first ‘legally binding contract’ between college athletic recruits and schools.

According to CBS Sports, the CAP Agreement would allow players the ability to negotiate for things like post-eligibility medical insurance, and the ability to be automatically released from scholarships if the player chooses to transfer. Athletes could submit CAP Agreements to interested schools, who could then either agree or disagree to provide the requested benefits. The result would allow a prospective student-athlete to ultimately make a decision on where to sign based on the protections that they’re offered — without breaking any NCAA rules.

Other benefits listed on the CAP Agreement, viewable here, include:

  • Guaranteed scholarship money for a given period
  • Stipend money
  • Reimbursement money
  • Medical expenses
  • Off-season and free time activities
  • Disability insurance

Many of these benefits are available to prospective student-athletes, but are not uniformly provided, according to former NCAA enforcement official Tim Nevius, who worked with the National College Players Association to help develop the document.

“The ultimate benefit could be education, even if no one utilizes the document,” Nevius told CBS Sports.

The biggest distinction between the CAP and National Letters of Intent is that it forces schools to put promises in writing. While NLIs are voluntary (no prospective student-athlete is required to sign one), they are binding documents. In exchange for agreeing to attend a school for a full academic year, the school agrees to provide athletic financial aid for that same period. Failure to honor an NLI results in the student-athlete losing a year of competitive eligibility. CAP Agreements would potentially allow student-athletes a means of legal recourse in the event that the benefits agreed upon therein were violated.

Ramogi Huma, executive director of the NCPA, told CBS Sports “We think this will change things. This will be a good place to start. It opens Pandora’s Box.”

The CAP Agreement was unveiled Wednesday at a National Basketball Players Association event. They will be made available to athletes from all sports.

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.