UNITED STATES

NCAA President Charlie Baker calls for new tier of Division I where schools can pay athletes

Dec 5, 2023, 2:47 PM | Updated: 2:51 pm

The Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the SEC Championship trophy after defeating the Georgia Bul...

The Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the SEC Championship trophy after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 27-24 in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 02, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — NCAA President Charlie Baker is asking members to make one of the most dramatic shifts in the history of college sports by allowing highly resourced schools to pay some of their athletes.

In a letter sent to more than 350 Division I schools Tuesday, Baker said he wants the association to create a new tier of NCAA Division I sports where schools would be required to offer at least half their athletes a payment of at least $30,000 per year through a trust fund.

Baker also proposed allowing all Division I schools to offer unlimited educational benefits and enter into name, image and likeness licensing deals with athletes.

He said the disparity in resources between the wealthiest schools in the top tier of Division I called the Football Bowl Subdivision and other D-I members — along with the hundreds of Division II and III schools — is creating “a new series of challenges.”

“The challenges are competitive as well as financial and are complicated further by the intersection of name, image and likeness opportunities for student-athletes and the arrival of the Transfer Portal,” wrote Baker, the former Massachusetts governor who took over at the NCAA in March.

Baker is scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Sports Business Journal’s Intercollegiate Athletic Forum in Las Vegas.

Division I is currently divided for football into the FBS, which has 133 schools, and FCS (Football Championship Subdivision).

Baker’s proposal is aimed at creating a new subdivision, covering all sports, where the richest athletic departments in the so-called Power Five conferences — the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 — can operate differently than the rest, while still competing with the rest of Division I.

Conference realignment starting in 2024 will move the Pac-12 out of that group.

The proposed shift would not require all members of a conference to be part of the new subdivision. Schools would be allowed to make that determination individually.

Baker noted athletic budgets in Division I range from $5 million and $250 million annually, with 59 schools spending over $100 million annually and another 32 spending over $50 million. He said 259 Division I schools, however, spend less than $50 million on their athletic programs.

Baker said the difference in the way schools that participate in revenue-generating college sports such as major college football and basketball operate and the vast majority of college sports is complicating attempts to modernize the entire enterprise.

“The contextual environment is equally challenging, as the courts and other public entities continue to debate reform measures that in many cases would seriously damage parts or all of college athletics,” he wrote.

Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez said a during the Sports Business Journal’s Intercollegiate Sports Forum that subdivision can be a trigger word in the NCAA, stoking worries some schools will be shut out of championship events or lose out on revenue. Nevarez didn’t read Baker’s proposal that way.

“When I read it … it talked about space to make governance,” she said.

Baker and college sports leaders have been pleading with Congress to help the NCAA with a federal law to regulate the way athletes can be paid for NIL deals.

“I am 100% supportive of your efforts. Intercollegiate Athletics needs the proactive and forward thinking you are providing,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a post on social media platform X.

Smith oversees one of the largest athletic departments in the country with operating expenses of above $225 million annually.

Former Southern California and NFL star Reggie Bush called schools paying athletes, “Long overdue.”

Bush, who was being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in Las Vegas, was the focus of an NCAA impermissible benefits infractions case during his USC career that resulted in the vacation of a national title for the Trojans and Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy victory.

Baker’s letter is an aggressive first step toward a major shift for the NCAA. To turn his vision into detailed legislation will take member feedback, lots of work by the Division I Council and final approval from the Division I Board of Directors.

There is no timetable to bring the proposal to fruition.

The NCAA is also facing a new round of legal threats that could force its members to share some of the billions in revenue generated by major college football and basketball, along with giving athletes employees status. One antitrust case working its way through federal court could cost the NCAA billions in damages.

Baker called on NCAA member schools to create a new framework to make what he called “fundamental changes.”

“First, we should make it possible for all Division I colleges and universities to offer student-athletes any level of enhanced educational benefits they deem appropriate. Second, rules should change for any Division I school, at their choice, to enter into name, image and likeness licensing opportunities with their student-athletes,” he wrote. “These two changes will enhance the financial opportunities available to all Division I student-athletes.”

Currently, schools are allowed — though not required — to provide athletes $5,980 per year in educational benefits under NCAA rules.

Baker said the changes would help level the playing field between men’s and women’s athletics by forcing schools to abide by gender equity regulations as they invest.

He said schools in a new tier of Division I should be allowed, while staying compliant with Title IX, to “invest at least $30,000 per year into an enhanced educational trust fund for at least half of the institution’s eligible student-athletes.”

A new D-I subdivision should also allow members to create rules unique rules regarding “scholarship commitment and roster size, recruitment, transfers or NIL,” he said.

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said Baker’s proposal merely defines what already exists: The power conference schools have separated themselves financially, already provide greater benefits to athletes and have some autonomy in the NCAA legislative process.

“I think probably a lot of people are saying this is the precursor of the great breakaway (of power conferences from the NCAA),” Steinbrecher said. “I would suggest to you it’s exactly the opposite. It’s taking the pressure valve off.”
___
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

United States

texas wildfires...

Associated Press

Wildfire grows into one of largest in Texas history as flames menace multiple small towns

Known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest blaze expanded to more than 1,300 square miles and jumped into parts of neighboring Oklahoma.

16 hours ago

execution chamber in idaho prison...

Associated Press

Idaho halts execution by lethal injection after 8 failed attempts to insert IV line

Thomas Eugene Creech Creech, one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the U.S., was wheeled into the execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution on a gurney at 10 a.m.

17 hours ago

DEARBORN, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 27: A sign for Republican presidential candidate former President Don...

Marshall Cohen, CNN

Illinois judge removes Trump from ballot, cites ‘insurrectionist ban’

Wednesday’s unexpected decision comes as a similar challenge from Colorado is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

18 hours ago

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to reporters following the weekly Senate Republ...

MICHAEL TACKETT Associated Press

McConnell to step down as Senate Republican leader in November

In a copy of his prepared remarks, McConnell stressed the importance of knowing when to move on. "to life's next chapter."

1 day ago

The Wendy's logo appears over a red background...

Associated Press

Wendy’s won’t raise prices during restaurant’s busy times

Wendy's says that it has no plans to increase prices during the busiest times at its restaurants.

1 day ago

Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy, right, lands a punch on Carolina Hurricanes left wing ...

STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer

NHL fighting is down across the league but not going anywhere

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said fighting has a place in keeping down the temperature of games,

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

overhead view of a few aisles in a department store...

Big Deal Outlet

There is a Big Deal coming to Midvale: Local discount chain opens 8th store

If you love the thrill of finding good deals, check out the grand opening of Big Deal Outlet in Midvale from February 29 - March 2.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

NCAA President Charlie Baker calls for new tier of Division I where schools can pay athletes