NCAA recommendations call for bigger championship events

Jan 2, 2023, 9:15 PM | Updated: Jan 3, 2023, 3:06 pm
South Carolina guard Zia Cooke, second from right, shoots over Georgia guard Audrey Warren, right, ...

South Carolina guard Zia Cooke, second from right, shoots over Georgia guard Audrey Warren, right, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Athens, Ga., Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz)

(AP Photo/Alex Slitz)

              West Virginia guard Erik Stevenson (10) fouls Kansas State guard Tykei Greene (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
              Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) celebrates hos touchdown catch against Georgia during the first half of the Peach Bowl NCAA college football semifinal playoff game, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
              Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi (11) celebrates following an NCAA college basketball game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Rutgers defeated Purdue 65-64. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
              Indiana's Sydney Parrish (33) dives for a loose ball as Nebraska's Isabelle Bourne (34) watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Bigger brackets. Less bureaucracy. More benefits for athletes.

The NCAA Division I transformation committee wrapped up months of work with a 22-page report released Tuesday that recommends a variety of changes at the top level of college sports, but only one likely to catch the attention of the average fan.

The committee is recommending 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.

Expanding the tournaments is not imminent and might not even be likely in the near future even if the recommendation is adopted.

“Each sport will have the opportunity to take a look, comprehensively, at what the impact of expanded brackets might be and whether or not it’s something they should pursue for their particular championship,” said Ohio University athletic director Julie Cromer, who is the co-chairperson of the committee.

The final report will be presented to the Division I Board of Directors for consideration ahead of next week’s NCAA convention in San Antonio.

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

Led by Cromer and Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, the 21-member committee comprised mostly of college sports administrators and university presidents held weekly meetings for most of the last year. Sankey, Cromer and others have been discussing some of the details publicly for weeks.

The goal was to reform the highest and most lucrative level of college athletics, which includes more than 350 schools. The result will be changes that could largely go unnoticed outside college sports and could take years to play out.

Cromer called the report a milestone, not a finish line.

“We believe the recommendations in this report will prove to be transformative but transformation needs to be a mindset shared by leaders,” she said.

No schools will be getting booted from Division I and the committee recommended giving schools approximately two years to meet enhanced membership expectations. The committee also said NCAA revenue could be used to subsidize schools in need of help meeting those new expectations.

“I don’t think what we’ve done today makes it cost prohibitive to be a Division I member,” Cromer said.

Among the notable recommendations:

— Require schools to create a “direct pathway for full-time clinical services of a licensed mental health professional exclusively dedicated to serving student-athletes.”

— Schools and conferences should create Student-Athlete Advisory Committees, similar to those used by the NCAA to allow athletes to be more involved in decisions.

— Require more accountability, training and certification for coaches.

The committee also recommended expanding permissible benefits to athletes to include more pay for travel, elite training away from the school, educational incidentals and more money toward housing and meals.

The committee recommended a review of membership requirements for the top tier of Division I football, know as the Bowl Subdivision. Those requirements are now mostly tied to attendance minimums.

Sport-by-sport oversight committees similar to those currently used in basketball and football could become more common. This would be no surprise: A move to decentralize the governance of college athletics was spurred by the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision against the NCAA in June 2021 in an antitrust case.

Soon after that ruling, Mark Emmert, now the outgoing NCAA president, called for shifting the power structure of the association to create a more deregulated version of college sports.

That set the stage for a comprehensive reform of Division I, where there are 363 Division I schools with athletic budgets ranging from well over $100 million annually to less than $10 million.

From the start, Sankey has tried to temper expectations about the committee’s work, pointing out that what qualifies as a transformation of DI was never clearly defined by the board.

Over the last few months, it became clear that while reforms would be made — the committee’s recommendations regarding sport-specific time periods when athletes may transfer and retain immediate eligibility have already been adopted — radical change was not going to happen.

“We now have a set of actions that will be presented to the board,” Sanke said. “And so the opportunity to take this step in change is in front of the NCAA … but as we say repeatedly there has to be an ongoing effort to transformation, not simply a committee or a time.”

The committee handed off several items to a NCAA Division I Legislative Committee subcommittee, such as the elimination of the volunteer coach designation and a cap on recruiting visits. It also recommended a review of rules regarding athletes entering professional drafts and using agents.

As for rules related to athletes cashing in via celebrity endorsement deals — a profound change over the last 18 months in college sports — the committee’s report made clear the solution is beyond the NCAA’s reach: “Congress is the only entity that can grant that stability”


Follow Ralph D. Russo at and listen at


AP college football: and Sign up for the AP Top 25 newsletter here:

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


New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket to score as Boston Celtics center A...
Associated Press

Randle scores 37, Knicks rally to beat Celtics 120-117 in OT

BOSTON (AP) — Julius Randle had 37 points and nine rebounds, and hit the free throws that gave the New York Knicks the lead for good in a 120-117 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. Jalen Brunson added 29 points, seven assists and a game-ending blocked shot for New York, which has […]
20 hours ago
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, left, lays up a shot past Houston Rockets center Alperen ...
Associated Press

Garland scores 26 as Cavaliers race past Rockets 113-95

HOUSTON (AP) — Darius Garland scored 26 points and Evan Mobley added 21 as the Cleveland Cavaliers routed the short-handed Houston Rockets 113-95 Thursday night despite missing Donovan Mitchell. Garland, the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft who turned 23 on Thursday, also had nine assists and four rebounds for the Cavs. The Cavaliers […]
20 hours ago
Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, right, drives past Detroit Pistons' Jaden Ivey during the first half o...
Associated Press

Pistons beat Nets, first win in Brooklyn in almost 5 years

NEW YORK (AP) — Saddiq Bey scored 25 points and the Detroit Pistons won in Brooklyn for the first time in nearly five years, beating the Nets 130-122 on Thursday night. Alec Burks added 20 for the Pistons, who snapped a four-game losing streak and were playing for the first time since giving up 150 […]
20 hours ago
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates with the bench after scoring against t...
Associated Press

Hedman lifts Lightning over Bruins for 11th straight at home

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Victor Hedman scored the go-ahead goal with 6:31 remaining and the Tampa Bay Lightning tied a team record with their 11th straight home victory by defeating the NHL-best Boston Bruins 3-2 on Thursday night. Brayden Point’s pass for Steven Stamkos on a 2-on-1 misfired, but the puck came right to Hedman. […]
20 hours ago
Detroit Red Wings' Robby Fabbri (14) scores against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) d...
Associated Press

Robby Fabbri scores in OT, Red Wings beat Canadiens 4-3

MONTREAL (AP) — Robby Fabbri scored at 2:36 of overtime to give the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Michael Rasmussen set up Fabbri with a pass through the crease. Rasmussen, Jonatan Berggren and Oskar Sunqvist also scored to help the Red Wings improve to 21-18-8. Moritz Seider […]
20 hours ago
Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan (11) passes the ball around Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozie...
Associated Press

Rozier, Plumlee lead Hornets past Bulls 111-96

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Terry Rozier scored 28 points, Mason Plumlee added 21 points and 12 rebounds and the Charlotte Hornets defeated the Chicago Bulls 111-96 on Thursday night. Gordon Hayward added 17 points, and LaMelo Ball returned from a three-game absence due to a sprained ankle and wrist injury and chipped in with 15 […]
20 hours ago
NCAA recommendations call for bigger championship events