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NCAA board OKs proposals for Division I reform

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SAN ANTONIO — The NCAA Division I board of directors approved a host of recommendations Thursday intended to reform the top tier of college sports, from membership standards to the size of championship brackets.

The D-I transformation committee made its final report public last week and board approval came at the NCAA convention in San Antonio.

“Keep in mind these are concepts at this point,” said Georgia president Jere Morehead, the chairman of the board. “So, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the details, but tremendous progress was made today. The board was very adamant its support of student-athletes and most of the transformation committee recommendations focused on how to enhance the experience for student-athletes.”

The report called for more sport-by-sport governance in Division I, more involvement by athletes in governance and enhanced expectations for member schools with a goal of creating a more uniform experience for athletes.

Transformation committee co-chairs Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, and Julie Cromer, Ohio University athletic director, reiterated in a joint statement the work of transforming Division I will continue beyond the committee’s work.

“We’re confident these important changes will meet the needs of student-athletes because they were rooted in the perspective of student-athletes,” they said. “In fact, we’re confident that student-athletes’ voices have never featured more prominently in shaping how college sports is run.”

The committee also recommended allowing 25% of teams in sports sponsored by at least 200 schools to compete in annual championship events. That opens the door to possible expansion of the popular March Madness basketball tournaments from 68 to as many as 90 teams each.

Later Thursday, the annual state of the NCAA address was to be given by the current and future leaders of the association. Incoming president Charlie Baker, the former governor of Massachusetts, and outgoing president Mark Emmert were expected to share the stage along with board of governors chairwoman Linda Livingstone, the president of Baylor.

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