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CHICAGO, Illinois Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany echoed the recent comments of his major-conference colleagues and called for a restructuring of the NCAA and how it conducts business with its member institutions.
At the Big Ten's annual football media day event Wednesday, Delany labeled himself a critic and outlined four major points of reform within the NCAA umbrella. He also left no doubt that he favors altering rules for the Division I schools based on revenue, and he was "very optimistic" those changes will occur within a year.
"My belief is that there's a lot of political momentum for change at the NCAA," Delany said. "I don't think there's a major conference that disagrees with that. To be honest with you, I don't think there's a mid-major conference that disagrees with that. And from all of my conversations with all of my colleagues, they think change is at hand. It's a matter of doing the detailed work on it.
"I don't think it's going to be very adversarial, and I don't really think that the need to threaten or walk is going to be there, because I think everybody really wants to take us to a place where we can do our business."
Delany declined to use the term "Division IV" to describe how a potential partition could occur among current Division I institutions. He classified it more as certain groupings enjoying more autonomy on financial and other issues. He said he does not favor a complete separation.
"I think without getting into too many details is how we have the flexibility and the autonomy to do what we need to do but also provide structures that allow institutions that don't have the resources to compete in the same events," Delany said. " But clearly I think most people would believe that the high-resource institutions are able to attract usually the better players, over time.
"And so I think it is conceivable that institutions could be in the same tournament and the same competition but provide a different package of benefits based on high resource versus middle resource."
Delany's reforms centered primarily on how financial issues relate to student-athletes. Two years ago he pressed for athletic scholarships covering the full cost of attendance, which is supported by a majority of major-conference schools. Even with support from NCAA President Mark Emmert, the NCAA Board of Governors tabled the measure in January 2012 after threats of an override.
Delany was more forceful Wednesday in his call for stipends. He cited his own experience as a basketball player at North Carolina where athletes received $15 monthly for laundry expenses, an allowance which the NCAA later removed. Depending on location, Delany said all athletes not just football and basketball players need between $3,000 and $6,000 a year beyond a scholarship for regular living expenses.
"The miscellaneous expense needs to be implemented," he said. "And it needs to be implemented in a way that allows the student to engage in athletics and academics and also to receive support from the institution above the scholarship, up to the cost of education."
Delany also called for schools to fund lifetime scholarships for athletes to ensure all graduate from college. That includes athletes who exhaust their eligibility or leave early to play professionally. He called for coaches to help students better balance time demands for academics. Delany also wants to provide "a year of readiness" for at-risk athletes, possibly withholding true freshmen from competition to better acclimate themselves to college life.
"I believe in change and reform and restructuring," Delany said. "But as we restructure the NCAA, let's just think about restructuring the NCAA. Let's think about the outcomes that we want that will serve the athletes in the Big Ten and other places and years to come."