NCAA looking at governance model

NEW ORLEANS -- The NCAA's current governance model was created in the 1990s to make sure member institutions were treated equally.

Now that there's a bigger gap between the top and the bottom, it may be time to change.

Speaking at the Final Four, NCAA president Mark Emmert said he has suggested to university presidents the creation of a committee to look at the possibility of changing the governance model to address the disparity between Division I schools and the rest of the membership.

"The diversity of institutions in Division I has grown, the relative diversity of their economic bases has grown, so it's been increasingly difficult to create rules that fit everybody and everybody's happy with and get a consensus around those things," Emmert said Thursday. "So we're going to spend some time this summer and in the fall looking at what would the membership like to do, how would they like to grapple with this governance challenge and still hold together the big Division I tent."

When the current model was created, it was designed to encompass every level of collegiate athletics, from the large Division I powerhouses to schools that don't have football programs.

But as college football and basketball have increased in popularity, Division I universities have seen dramatic revenue gains, earning millions of dollars more than smaller institutions. The gap between the top and the bottom has widened, substantially.

With all that extra money has come added potential for rules violations, not to mention issues that had never come up before. While the NCAA has done its best to keep up with current enforcement and look for ways to prevent further attempts to skirt the rules, many of the issues aren't relevant to smaller schools.

One possible way to address the disparities would be to create a separate governance model for Division I or to split it off entirely from the rest of the NCAA membership.

"We know what the questions are and we don't have any answers yet," Emmert said.

Emmert also said the two groups working on an overhaul of the NCAA's rules and enforcement are making progress. In January, the NCAA outlined plans to rework its 400-page rulebook and look at possible changes to its penalty structure.

The changes to the rulebook will be designed to simplify the language so coaches and athletic directors can better understand what is and isn't allowed, along with deleting outdated or irrelevant rules.

The NCAA also is looking at potentially expanding the levels of penalties -- there are currently secondary and major violations -- and perhaps an enforcement structure, sort of like sentencing guidelines for judges.

"This is all about providing fairness among all the institutions," Emmert said. "We don't want our coaches or athletic directors or anyone else feeling like they're chumps because they can't follow the rules. We want the landscape to be fair and we want to support those people who are doing the right thing and provide constructive fear for those who are not."