SEATTLE - The University of Washington, and Washington State University Presidents are now leading a charge for major college athletic reform.
"We think, in some ways, what's happened in the evolution of intercollegiate athletics has begun to interfere with (our mission)," UW President Michael Young told KING5.
Young, and WSU President Elson Floyd, co-signed a letter to their colleagues at the other four major football conferences. It makes a case for sweeping changes to the NCAA model, and autonomy from other schools under NCAA jurisdiction.
"We believe that the events of the last few months have underscored the urgency with which we must move forward in reforming the rules that govern intercollegiate athletics, and because we believe that bold rather than incremental action must be taken now," the letter, dated May 14th, states.
Young, and Floyd, have both advocated for providing scholarships up to the "full cost of attendance" or additional stipends for student athletes.
The letter was spurred, in part, by Northwestern football players' recent vote on whether to move to unionize. The NCAA is working on a new governance structure that will allow the five wealthiest conferences to make some rules without the support of smaller Division I schools.
"We acknowledge the core objectives could prove to be expensive and controversial, but the risks of inaction or moving too slowly are far greater," the letter reads. "The time for tinkering with the rules and making small adjustments is over.”
The full list of proposals included in the letter are:
-- 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 demands placed on the athlete in-season, correspondingly increase the time available for studies and campus life, by preventing 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.
-- 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 requirements for postseason play.
-- Address the "one and done" phenomenon in men's basketball. If the NBA its Players Association are unable to agree to 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 of 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.
Pac-12 presidents are asking for a response to the proposed reforms by June 4.
Young says it's time the NCAA address the NBA age limit.
"For them to come and play, and one and done, defeats to some extent the purpose of college in the first place," says Young, "If a kid wants to go straight in the pros, it's not our rules, that prohibit that or prevent that. We want kids that want an education."
Part of the idea behind the proposal by the Pac-12 presidents is to get ahead of the issue and meet some of the demands that have been raised by Northwestern players and other athletes without "professionalizing" college sports.
The letter states "it is clear from the recent statements of any number of individuals that, while they may share or view that labor unions are not the answer, the time has come for a meaningful response both to the student-athletes' grievances and the need to reassert the academic primacy of our mission.”