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NCAA DI Board of Directors increases benefits for college athletes

Meghan Durham, NCAA, Press Release

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors Wednesday unanimously adopted new rules for all Division I schools that will require increased support for college athletes.

The benefits, often referred to as the "holistic student-athlete benefits model," were supported by the Division I Council and were originally recommended by the Transformation Committee in January.

"This decision by the board represents the commitment of Division I schools to support college athletes both during and after their college careers," said Jere Morehead, chair of the board and president at the University of Georgia. "This process is not over. We will continue to evaluate additional benefits that we can provide to college athletes, but this is a strong step in the right direction to modernizing our rules and making transformative changes so college athletes are receiving the support they need."

All Division I members who do not do so already will be required to:

• Provide medical coverage for athletically related injuries for at least two years after graduation.

• Cover out-of-pocket medical expenses (copayments, deductibles, etc.) during a student-athlete's playing career.

• Attest that they provide mental health services and support consistent with the NCAA's mental health best practices.

• Attest that they follow concussion management protocols in line with the NCAA Concussion Safety Protocol Checklist.

• Offer degree completion funds for up to 10 years after a college athlete's eligibility concludes, if that college athlete was previously on full scholarship or received financial aid in a head count sport.

• Provide the same scholarship protections already required of autonomy conferences.

• Attest that they provide academic support services in line with NCAA rules.

• Attest that they provide career counseling for current and former college athletes and life skills development across a range of topics, including at minimum:
— Mental health.
— Strength and conditioning.
— Nutrition.
— Name, image and likeness opportunities.
— Financial literacy.
— Career preparation.
— Transfer requirements.
— Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
— Sexual violence prevention.

"Division I SAAC is encouraged by the board's decision to require all schools to provide these vital benefits to college athletes," said Brynn Carlson, chair of the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a former student-athlete at Missouri. "We recognize that there is more work to be done, specifically around mental health support for college athletes, but view this action as a positive step in the right direction."

The requirements take effect August 2024. Schools can begin offering these benefits at any time.

The board discussed the need to work with the national office to assist schools in meeting new requirements.

Student-athlete representation

At the recommendation of the Division I Board of Directors Administrative Committee, the board unanimously approved the addition of another student-athlete to its composition.

The chair of Division I SAAC currently serves on the board. Moving forward, SAAC will be asked to nominate an additional student-athlete to serve as a voting member of the board. Of the two student-athletes on the board, at least one must be a current or former student-athlete in football or men's or women's basketball.

The second student-athlete representative will join the board following its August 2023 meeting.

Infractions principles

The board also endorsed guiding principles for the Infractions Process Committee's ongoing work to update the infractions process that incentivize cooperation for the infractions process and hold responsible individuals accountable for violations that occur.

Previously, the board in August approved several recommendations from the Infractions Process Committee intended to modernize the process. These actions are part of the second phase of the committee's work to update the infractions process in line with the NCAA constitution that was adopted in January 2022.

The Infractions Process Committee, which oversees the Division I Committee on Infractions, is currently working through a review of the penalty matrix, which outlines appropriate penalty ranges for certain violations and types of infractions cases.

As the Infractions Process Committee continues its efforts to modernize the penalty matrix and increase fairness in the infractions process, it will consider changes that incentivize exemplary cooperation in an investigation. Those changes could include removing possible penalties — like a postseason competition ban — that otherwise apply to the facts of a given case. For major infractions cases in which schools do not demonstrate exemplary cooperation, the postseason competition ban would remain a possible penalty.

The Infractions Process Committee also will explore more meaningful penalties for individuals directly involved in violations, including more serious show-cause orders and suspensions for coaches, and/or disassociation from the school in question.

The committee expects to submit penalty recommendations for the board's consideration later this year.