Power 5 Conferences Approve Sweeping Athletics Changes

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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)


INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA's five largest conferences Friday approved sweeping changes in everything from medical care to basketball during the holidays, dashing through the agenda with virtually no debate.

Extended medical benefits for former athletes, a three-day break for basketball players over the holiday season, more money for student hosts and allowing men's hockey players to receive draft advice before enrolling in college without losing eligibility were all approved. The Division I autonomy group passed all four measures — and 11 in all — in just 35 minutes at the NCAA's annual convention.

"It's a great day, all the proposals passed," said Taylor Ricci, a former gymnast and undergraduate assistant coach at Oregon State who serves on Student Athletic Advisory Committee. "It's really, really exciting to see the medical proposal pass. It put a smile on my face."

If the last two days proved anything, it's just how closely aligned the power conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — seem to be. Thursday's scheduled two-hour hearing lasted barely 60 minutes, and Friday's voting ended almost 90 minutes early. It's a stark contrast to the contentious debates of earlier years.

Medical coverage and mental health benefits for athletes who suffered injuries or sought help during their college careers was extended for at least two years after they leave campus. The proposal passed by 78-1 with the lone dissenting vote coming from an ACC school. Wake Forest's representative did not attend because of supposed weather-related travel issues.

Each institution will be able to create policies for who qualifies for the new two-year requirement. Many but not all of the 65 Power Five conference members already provide post-career medical coverage, including the Pac-12, which has a four-year mandate.

"I think it's good to do it across the board," California athletic director Mike Williams said. "I think it's really the right thing for student-athletes."

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January 22, 2018


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