NCAA rewrites constitution, sets stage for transformation

Nov 7, 2021, 5:08 PM | Updated: Nov 9, 2021, 9:25 am
FILE - The NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis is shown in this Thursday, March 12, 2020. The NCAA on...

FILE - The NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis is shown in this Thursday, March 12, 2020. The NCAA on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, set the stage for a dramatic restructuring of college sports that will give each of its three divisions the power to govern itself. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

The NCAA is setting the stage for a dramatic restructuring of college sports that will give each of its three divisions the power to govern itself.

Approval of a new, streamlined constitution is expected in January with minimal consternation or conflict.

The next phase of the NCAA’s transformation figures to be more difficult: a reshaping of Division I that will tackle revenue distribution, how rules are made and enforced, access to the most-high profile and lucrative NCAA events — such as the men’s basketball tournament — and just how big the tent should be at the top of college sports.

“So those are the things that we’re really going to have to get to the granular spot, and some of those are going to be very difficult conversations to have,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who is the chairman of the Division I Council and a member of the committee that trimmed the bedrock constitution of the 115-year-old organization.

The NCAA on Monday released a draft of an 18 1/2-page constitution, cut down from 43 pages over the last three months at the direction of President Mark Emmert.

The cutting of NCAA red tape comes in a year that has brought a tempest of change to college sports. Athletes have more financial freedom than ever before. Conference realignment has swept through the most powerful leagues while also shuffling lineups deep into Division I. Meanwhile, the expansion of the College Football Playoff promises to bring yet another revenue windfall to those at the top of the NCAA food chain.

Changing the constitution is the first step in determining the NCAA’s ultimate role in the changing landscape.

“This constitution is not for today and tomorrow,” Lyons said. “It’s for 10 years from now, 20 years from now. What’s, potentially, the association going to look like?”

The rewritten constitution focuses more on the NCAA’s broad goals of athlete welfare and athletics as part of an academic experience instead of governing procedures and operations, both of which have come under increasing criticism.

The proposal specifically notes that athletes should be allowed to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness — something in place only since July — but stands fast on barring schools from paying athletes to play.

The document still needs to go to membership for feedback after next week’s constitutional convention, and it could be amended before it is put before the full membership for a vote in January.

Emmert called the constitutional convention in August, not long after the U.S. Supreme Court hammered the NCAA in a ruling that left the association vulnerable to further legal challenges and in need of deregulation.

It quickly became apparent a new constitution was merely the first part of transforming the NCAA in a way that de-emphasizes the Indianapolis-based association and gives more power to schools and conferences.

“Once we got into this, we really found out that many of the issues were at the Division I level,” Lyons said.

The goal is to have changes in place in less than a year. Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer will lead the Division I Transformation Committee. Lyons also is a member.

“There’s a huge gap in Division I, with schools roughly with $175 million budgets and schools with $4 million budgets,” Lyons said. “A lot of times we’ve tried to legislate from an equality standpoint. Is there possibly a new division? Is there a Division IV? Do some schools break away and make a Division IV, and what is the membership requirement?”

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an organization of former and current college administrators, backs a restructuring of Division I that would include moving major college football out from under the NCAA umbrella.

The Bowl Subdivision of Division I is 130 schools that have access to the College Football Playoff, which brings in nearly $500 million annually that is controlled by conferences, not the NCAA. The Knight Commission recently proposed a revenue-sharing model that it believes would curb the athletics arms race at the top of Division I and better support educational goals.

Knight Commission CEO Amy Perko said the newly proposed NCAA constitution is a good start toward reform.

“There’s a lot still clearly to be defined about Division I and how the governance will work and how the revenue distribution will work,” Perko said. “The encouraging part is that the constitution does require the commitment to all of those core principles that define the educational model.”

The new constitution calls for shrinking the NCAA’s highest governing body, the Board of Governors, from 21 members to nine and include for the first time a recently graduated athlete. The board’s duties would be narrowed to only matters that impact the entire association at the highest levels, such as budgets, strategic planning and evaluation of the NCAA president.

The proposed constitution also locks in the current revenue distribution percentage to Division II (4.37%) and Division III (3.18%), which should help it garner support from the majority of the NCAA’s member schools. The NCAA has 1,100 member schools, 351 that compete in Division I, and some 500,000 athletes overall.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


More AP college football: and Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference ahead of the Super Bowl 57 football ...
Associated Press

NFL Commissioner Goodell tackles diversity, concussions

PHOENIX (AP) — From diversity to concussions, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the league is still looking for improvement. As for officiating, he says: “it’s never been better.” Goodell addressed those topics and more, including the Washington Commanders’ investigation, flex scheduling and international play in his annual Super Bowl news conference Wednesday. DeMeco Ryans became […]
15 hours ago
CORRECT ID TO MICHAEL SKUBALA , NOT SIMON HOOPER  - Leeds United's interim head coach Michael Skuba...
Associated Press

Man United stages fightback to draw 2-2 with Leeds in EPL

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Leeds in the Premier League on Wednesday. Substitute Jadon Sancho rescued a point for Erik ten Hag’s team, which missed the chance to move level on points with second-place Manchester City. Leeds fired Jesse Marsch on Monday. It is […]
15 hours ago
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones speaks to the media during the NFL football Super B...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Jones sets sack standard for Kansas City defense

PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Jones claims to have very little memory of a relatively benign game in 2017, when the Kansas City Chiefs welcomed the Philadelphia Eagles to Arrowhead Stadium for the second game of the regular season. Jason Kelce remembers it quite well. The veteran Philadelphia center spent the afternoon lining up alongside Isaac […]
2 days ago
Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin speaks after being introduced as the winner of the Alan Page Community ...
Associated Press

Hamlin appears during Super Bowl event to receive award

PHOENIX (AP) — Damar Hamlin made a brief appearance in Phoenix during Super Bowl week to receive the NFLPA’s Alan Page Community Award. The Buffalo Bills safety received the award at the Phoenix Convention Center on Wednesday, a little over a month after he went into cardiac arrest and needed to be resuscitated on the […]
2 days ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes answers a question during an NFL football Super Bowl...
Associated Press

Chiefs’ Mahomes says ankle will be ready for Super Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes says he’s “definitely in a better spot” when it comes to his ailing right ankle than he was for the AFC championship game, and the All-Pro quarterback doesn’t expect to be limited by it when he leads the Kansas City Chiefs against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. […]
2 days ago
FILE - Las Vegas Aces' Dearica Hamby (5) dribbles up court during a WNBA basketball game against th...
Associated Press

WNBA investigating Hamby’s allegations against Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The WNBA is investigating Dearica Hamby’s allegations that the Las Vegas Aces bullied and manipulated her for being pregnant, the league said in a statement Wednesday. It was the first time the league acknowledged it was looking into the situation. The players’ union had pushed for an inquiry into whether Hamby’s […]
2 days ago
NCAA rewrites constitution, sets stage for transformation