Purdue president Mitch Daniels called a letter from Pac-12 Conference presidents urging for sweeping changes to the current NCAA model “highly positive” as the march toward reform of intercollegiate athletics continues.
The group sent a letter to 53 university presidents from the Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conferences underscoring the “urgency with which we must move forward … (and) that bold rather than incremental action must be taken now.”
The presidents outlined a 10-point plan and autonomy in the legislative process for the five leagues. A copy of the letter was first obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday night. The letter was posted on the Pac-12’s website Wednesday afternoon.
The Pac-12 presidents submitted a plan that features many proposals conference commissioners and athletic directors have been pushing for years. Among the proposals are providing full cost of attendance, decreasing the time demands and giving student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and NCAA levels.
“It’s about time a lot of these issues got raised in more than a timid way,” Daniels said Wednesday. “I’m not sure every single one is the best idea, and a couple of them I would want to know more about.”
Daniels has been expecting a group, or individuals, to step forward and take charge of the issues facing college athletics.
“I’ve raised this issue at a couple of meetings of presidents I’ve been to, and almost everybody recognizes that the status quo is not good,” he said. “I have been expecting either one of the organizations, or a few individual universities, would step forward. I applaud these folks for doing it.”
Daniels, who took office in January, 2013, knows the current model isn’t working. But Indiana’s former governor admits he didn’t know what the right answers were.
“I’ve been trying to learn more, and the items I see in this letter, I now see we’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “I didn’t feel qualified to launch into this subject because all I knew how to do was complain. I didn’t feel I yet understood which actions would be the right ones and the most effective. I’m glad to see people putting out constructive ideas and trying to generate discussion and some action.”
At last week’s Big Ten spring meetings, athletic directors, faculty representatives and conference officials spent a majority of their time on these issues and how it would impact league members, if a new structure is approved by the NCAA in August.
Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said it’s time to move forward.
“You’ve got to do something,” Burke said last week. “We’re already in a slippery spot right now where the general public has lost a fair amount of confidence in what we consider the intercollegiate model.”
Daniels said he would like to learn more about relaxing the restrictions when student-athletes can interact with agents without costing them eligibility. He’s also not a fan of the current one-and-done situation in men’s basketball.
The Pac-12 presidents suggested that if the NBA and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit, consideration should be given to restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.
“That’s bothered me for years, even before I found myself in higher education,” Daniels said. “We’ve seen outright scandal and the pretense that many of these young people are actually students. That’s one I feel needs addressing one way or another.”
Pac-12 presidents asked for a response from the other university leaders by June 4. Before Daniels decides, he wants to meet with Burke and discuss the proposals with other Big Ten presidents and chancellors at their annual meeting in early June.
Daniels believes the proposed reforms would ultimately benefit Purdue from a competitive standpoint.
“I think it’s an important initiative and the general theme is exactly right, and many of the individual parts are ideas I can support,” he said. “I have always felt a restoration of a more honest, true student-athlete system would be a good thing for Purdue competitively. We do it right. You’re at a disadvantage competing with folks who are more casual about it.”
Pac-12 presidents’ principal objectives in NCAA reform:
• Permit institutions to make scholarship awards up to the full cost of attendance.
• Provide reasonable ongoing medical or insurance assistance for student-athletes who suffer an incapacitating injury in competition or practice. Continue efforts to reduce the incidence of disabling injury.
• Guarantee scholarships for enough time to complete a bachelor’s degree, provided that the student remains in good academic standing.
• Decrease the time demands placed on the student-athlete in-season, and correspondingly enlarge the time available for studies and full engagement in campus life, by doing the following: Prevent the abuse of organized “voluntary” practices to circumvent the limit of 20 hours per week and more realistically assess the time away from campus and other commitments during the season, including travel time.
• Similarly decrease time demands out of season by reducing out-of-season competition and practices, and by considering shorter seasons in specific sports.
• Further strengthen the Academic Progress Rate (APR) requirements for postseason play.
• Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.
• Provide student-athletes a meaningful role in governance at the conference and NCAA levels.
• Adjust existing restrictions so that student-athletes preparing for the next stage in their careers are not unnecessarily deprived of the advice and counsel of agents and other competent professionals, but without professionalizing intercollegiate athletics.
• Liberalize the current rules limiting the ability of student-athletes to transfer between institutions.
This article was written by Mike Carmin and originally published in the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Ind. This article was republished with permission.