The power conferences in major college sports just got more powerful.
The NCAA Division I board of directors on Thursday voted to allow the 65 schools in the top five conferences to write many of their own rules. The autonomy measures -- which the power conferences had all but demanded -- will permit those leagues to decide on things such as cost-of-attendance stipends and insurance benefits for players, staff sizes, recruiting rules and mandatory hours spent on individual sports.
The Power Five (the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) could begin submitting their own legislation by Oct. 1 and have it enacted at the January 2015 NCAA convention in Washington, D.C. Key early issues are expected to include full cost-of-attendance stipends worth up to $5,000 per player; four-year scholarship guarantees; loosened rules involving contact between players and agents as well as outside career pursuits for players; and travel allowances for players' families to attend postseason games.
A new 80-member voting panel, which will include 15 current players, will determine policies for the five leagues. The power conferences will also carry more voting power on general NCAA matters.
Areas that will not fall under the autonomy umbrella include postseason tournaments, transfer policies, scholarship limits, signing day and rules governing on-field play.
If 75 schools from outside the Power Five vote to override the autonomy legislation in the next 60 days, the measures would be sent back to the board of directors for further consideration. But NCAA officials don't expect that to happen. Power Five commissioners have made veiled threats about breaking off to form their own division if autonomy fails.