The NCAA voted Thursday to grant autonomy to the Power 5 conferences, the Big Ten included.
In a move that's been expected for some time now, the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC, as well as Notre Dame, now have vastly increased rule-making power to govern themselves. They asked for the power feeling their needs differentiate greatly from those of schools in smaller conferences.
The powers granted are broad, including nearly everything. There are, however, things the Power 5 cannot do. Their rule-making power does not cover postseason tournaments, transfer policies, scholarship limits, signing day and rules governing on-field play.
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Here's a handy chart provided by the NCAA a while back that illustrates the new decision-making process among the Power 5 conferences:
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While the restructuring of the NCAA coincides with the increased efforts to improve the experience of student-athletes, this decision comes with pros and cons in that department. On one hand, the Power 5 conferences have expressed interest to use this new rule-making power to provide cost-of-attendance stipends, increased medical coverage for players and guaranteed scholarships. But the "seat at the table" Kain Colter and his College Athletes Players Association were fighting for has been only slightly achieved. There is increased student-athlete representation in the new model, but it's likely nowhere near as substantial as Colter and other advocates had hoped. Additionally, it places even more power in the hands of the conferences and schools.
That increased power could also produce an even larger imbalance of power on the field, as increased benefits for student-athletes — made possible by already greater resources — could make sure top recruits hardly ever pick schools outside the Power 5.
It's surely a huge shift in the structure of college athletics, and the fallout is just getting started.