The NCAA at times seems like an overbearing mother, yet in the next heartbeat it acts like an indulgent grandparent. The Super 6 can create consistency and fair rules that fit into its agenda as an elite sports association. A few key rule changes to implement.
- Scholarships that cover all living expenses. The Big Ten estimated that $3,000 would do it. If each school in the Super 6 carries about 600 student-athletes, that would be approximately 1.5 million a year in additional scholarship monies. But, it’s a drop in the bucket when you are considering the monies leagues are currently receiving through TV deals. This simple stipend would allow the Super 6 to outdistance its competitor easily (the NCAA), and it would be a step in the right direction for reimbursing the money-making athletes who bring in millions for their universities.
- Despite the $3,000 stipend, an inherent unfairness still persists. The backup catcher for a 2-58 women’s softball earns the same as the starting quarterback for a championship team. Student athletes should be allowed endorsements while playing Super 6 sports. They cannot wear their team jersey or use their team number in the endorsement (those belong to the school), but they should be able to use their name—if it’s desirable enough—to make money for themselves. The Super 6 could stipulate that school endorsements would trump personal ones (if Penn State wears Nike, their star running back can’t wear Reebok on the field even if he is endorsing Reebok). This rule ultimately could help the college game as student-athletes would have less incentive to leave the college ranks; professional contracts might still be out of reach but modest or lucrative endorsement monies would not. I understand that once you open the door to contracts, these players will need agents. The old system obviously didn’t work, so by licensing agents for Super 6 players, the league will open a necessary can of worms that will change the landscape of student-athletics. (Here’s an extensive article on how to regulate all of the unscupulous, Cecil Newton-like figures.) But hey, managing a few millionaire teenagers might actually make those 5 milion dollar-a-year coaches earn their outlandish salaries.
- Create two signing days for incoming athletes—one on November 15 and one on May 15. This will eliminate some of the poaching and the drama of the one February signing day that currently exists. If he wants out of his Letter of Intent because the coaching staff was pulled out from under the rug on him, then he’ll need to follow transfer rule A. If a kid simply wants out of his commitment for any old reason, then he’ll need to abide by transfer rule B.
- Transfer Rule A–Release students from their scholarships immediately when a head coach is fired or quits. They cannot be allowed to play immediately at the next school, as that would create a free-for-all which would ruin all stability. But, they are only penalized one semester of play rather than two. If the semester that is skipped is the fall semester (i.e. football season), a year of eligibility isn’t removed. Transfer Rule B—If a student athlete wants to transfer for any reason other than coaching change, they need to wait two semesters (one year) but they do not lose a year of eligibility (which is how they are currently penalized).
- The Committee of 6. To enforce unethical academic or financial conduct by players or coaches, each of the Super 6 conferences will have a representative on the Committee of 6. The representatives will serve staggered six year terms with each representative chairing the committee during his/her fifth year. A one-year statute of limitations will exist from the moment of official charge to the conclusion of proceedings. Quick and fair rulings that affect the actual players, coaches, and teams that commit the infractions (and not a team and staff in the future) is essential.
- Academic Reforms. I know some might think this doesn’t belong here, but as long as we’re talking about college athletics, rules must be abided by (even strengthened) if the integrity of the sport is maintained. These schools either need to uphold their standards or remove the expectation of academics altogether. I’d suggest penalties for low graduation rates per sport (African-American rates should also be considered since there is often a discrepancy), oversigning legislation, and four-year scholarships (rather than yearly renewals).