The Knights Commission on Wednesday released a proposal to require the NCAA, College Football Playoff and Division I conferences restructure how to allocate more than $ 3 billion in annual revenue, a model designed to guide the NCAA as it considers radical changes to its current management structure.
The Commission’s report entitled “Connecting Athletics Revenues with the Educational Model of College Sports (CARE)” aims to curb what it describes as “a runaway economic race that threatens to turn around and undermine the educational model of college athletics.”
With an expected expansion of the Common Fisheries Policy managed separately from the NCAA and increased media rights to FBS conferences, the Knight Commission estimated that annual distributions are likely to exceed $ 4.5 billion over the next several years.
“Sparkling NCAA, CFP, and conference revenue will be spent disproportionately on coaching compensation and athletics facilities, propelling the competitive arms race in Division I college athletics, and stepping up the path toward a professional sports model,” the report said.
The Commission concluded that systemic changes – not step-by-step reforms – are needed. It proposed five basic principles of model-transparency, independent oversight, gender equality, broad-based sporting opportunities and financial responsibility-to be adopted “in law, regulation and / or conference rules for guidance in the financial system.”
“Each of these principles is completely or partially absent in the current system,” the report said.
The CARE model provided proposals, not mandates, for conferences to consider. One example was that conferences could require each Division I institution to spend an amount equal to at least 50% of the “shared distribution of athletic income” on education, health, safety and well-being for college athletes and / or university academics.
Revenue received from the NCAA and / or the Common Fisheries Policy (either directly or indirectly through their conference) as well as conference-generated revenue from media contracts and conference tournaments would constitute the “shared distribution of athletic revenue” subject to the 50% standard. Data in the report show that most Division I schools already meet the 50% requirement. Those schools typically do not receive significantly higher amounts from shared income distributions and would be required to increase educational benefits, add scholarships or sports, or transfer funds to university academics.
Another proposal that was proposed was a “luxury tax system” on excessive coaching salaries, allowing for financial sanctions for total coaching salaries that exceed a certain limit. The report suggested that the US Congress or Conferences adopt ceiling or minimum limits to limit sport-specific spending, and it recommended that conference policies be published and approved by a new independent oversight body.
The report said the company should be run by a majority of people not employed by the NCAA, CFP, member institutions or media partners, and at least a third should include current and former college athletes.
The report specifically referred to the NCAAs’ “discriminatory gender-based awards” in men’s and women’s basketball and pointed to the Basketball Performance Fund, which currently allocates more than $ 160 million annually to win men’s basketball tournaments. The CARE model would require athletic income distribution to be gender fair.
To create more “sports-based sports opportunities”, the model also proposes to establish financial incentives to reward schools for sponsoring more teams than the minimum requirements for Division I membership.
“Concrete and meaningful revenue allocation and expenditure requirements are needed today because the financial structure and incentives of Division I college sports are broken,” Knight Commission President Nancy Zimpher said in a prepared statement. “The painful truth is that the existing management at the NCAA, conference, and campus level has failed to maintain an education-centric financial system.”
The CARE model could be imposed by the US Congress through legislation or at individual conferences.
The commission presented its latest report to members of the NCAA’s Constitutional Committee on Tuesday. It was also circulated among the top decision makers in all college athletics, including Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, who chairs the CFP board, the NCAA board, and the LEAD1 Association, which includes 131 FBS athletics directors.
The Knight Commission also presented to the Constitution Committee its proposal for a new governing body for the sport of FBS football, one separate from the NCAA. In December, the commission completed a year-long investigation into the concept of letting the NCAA control all sports except football.
“My takeaway is that they are very serious about their job,” said Knight Commission CEO Amy Perko. “They understand that the last major restructuring of the NCAA, which required very significant changes to the Constitution, was in 1973, when Division I, II and III were created … They are open to hearing the ideas, and we were impressed by their openness and their questions and their engaging discussion on this issue in terms of changes in revenue distribution as well as the bold change we proposed in December in terms of separating FBS football from the NCAA. “