Premium Partners

Looking Back: Predicting NCAA Reforms 20 Years Ago

Paul Steinbach
(Illustration by Deborah Tappan Simmons)
(Illustration by Deborah Tappan Simmons)

College student-athlete welfare advocates gained major ground — and attention — in 2014. There were victories for former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon in his class-action lawsuit against the NCAA's heretofore free use of player likenesses, as well as current Northwestern University football players arguing for the right to unionize.

But the moneymakers among the NCAA membership also scored big this year.

In August, the NCAA Division I board of directors voted to allow the top five conferences comprising 64 schools total — plus independent Notre Dame — to write many of their own rules. While this autonomy will potentially benefit student-athletes attending those schools in the form of full cost-of-attendance stipends and health benefits, it likely will widen the chasm between the haves and have-nots in Division I.

AB addressed the NCAA's internal power struggles at great length in September 1994, as Andrew Cohen wrote, "This year's watchword is 'restructuring,' both in terms of conference and divisional alignments, and of governance authority. Such a reorganization is seen by some as a mere adjustment to, and to others a momentous shift in, the balance of power." There's even reference to an idea of a college football playoff in Division I football. To read AB's full account of the NCAA landscape two decades ago, see: The Changing Face of College Sports.


This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Looking Back: 1994"

AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide