Pac-12 universities propose sweeping changes to student-athlete benefits

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pac-12 Conference announced today that it has notified the National Collegiate Athletic Association that its presidents and chancellors will propose new benefits for student-athletes. The announcement comes on the first day the NCAA established for the five major conferences to propose independent rules and changes to how student-athletes are supported in Division I intercollegiate athletics.

The enhanced benefits reflect the principles outlined by the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors this past May aimed at providing student-athletes with additional support for their academic and athletic experiences. The presidents and chancellors will now act on how to implement the proposed reforms at its board meeting on October 27, via individual institutional decisions, Conference-wide action, or among the five major conferences under the new NCAA five-conference autonomy governance structure.

“The landscape of college sports is changing, but no matter what happens, we want to protect the college experience and preserve the traditions that make college sports enjoyable for athletes, fans, parents and alumni,” said Dr. Elson S. Floyd, President of Washington State University and Chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group. “We are seizing our opportunity to usher in meaningful reform to help student-athletes and restore the academic primacy of our universities.”

Among the changes the Pac-12 is proposing are increasing the amount of money available to student-athletes to cover the full cost of their attendance; providing multi-year scholarships; supporting student-athletes who return to school so they can finish their degrees; and enhancing medical support and insurance for student-athletes. Implementation of any rule changes would occur with the start of the 2015-2016 academic year. 

“Student-athletes make tremendous contributions to their schools on and off the field and we want to boost the assistance they receive,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “Better meeting their evolving needs will allow us to preserve, and improve upon, the existing collegiate experience that has provided millions of student-athletes access to higher education and transformed the lives of so many young men and women.”

Universities in the Pac-12 have a broad-based commitment to athletics and support nearly 7,000 student-athletes with more than 126 million dollars in athletic financial aid each year. Students who participate in athletics in the Pac-12 typically receive free or reduced-price tuition, room, board, books, fees, and other support as part of their scholarship. The new funds covering the full cost of attendance would go to out-of-pocket expenses and other assorted day-to-day items such as laundry money, gasoline and travel.

The Pac-12 also announced that along with the other four major conferences, it would review the time demands placed on student-athletes by their athletic programs to ensure an appropriate balance between athletics and academics. In addition, it will pursue other initiatives that will better assist student-athletes with their career planning needs.  

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