NCAA president Baker proposes subdivision that will directly pay athletes

December 6, 2023 / Athletic Administration
On Tuesday, NCAA president Charlie Baker sent a letter to Division I members proposing the idea of a new competitive subdivision whose schools would be required to greater compensation for their student-athletes.

In this idea, schools in the new group would need to invest at least $30,000 per year into an educational trust fund for at least half of eligible student-athletes. How and when the student-athletes would be able to access the payments would be left up to the schools under this plan.

bakerA recent story from USA Today detailed the proposal by Baker on the NCAA’s behalf. Below is an excerpt from the USA Today story.

Regardless of how schools would implement this, the concept creates the possibility of a fundamental change in how — and how much — the NCAA allows schools to compensate athletes for participating in their sports.

Baker’s proposal also involves the schools in the new competitive group committing to work together to “create rules that may differ from the rules in place for the rest of Division I. Those rules could include a wide range of policies, such as scholarship commitment and roster size, recruitment, transfers or” policies connected to athletes’ activities making money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

For example, this could result in schools in the new subdivision having no limits on the number of scholarships awarded in a particular sport or sports. At present, Division I schools are subject to sport-by-sport limits on the number of scholarships they can award, and there are some sports with roster limits.

Across all of Division I, Baker says the association should change its rules to “make it possible for all Division I colleges and universities to offer student-athletes any level of enhanced educational benefits they deem appropriate. Second, rules should change for any Division I school, at their choice, to enter into name, image and likeness licensing opportunities with their student-athletes.”

The proposal comes a little over nine months after Baker became the NCAA’s president, following a two-term run as governor of Massachusetts. He moved into the job amid a time of considerable tumult within college sports. In addition to multiple legal battles over athlete compensation, the association has been facing growing unrest from the schools that have the greatest revenues and expenses.

Following the release of Baker’s letter, Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith — whose program fields 35 teams and annually has more than $200 million in operating revenues and expenses — wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: “Thank you, @CharlieBakerMA for your leadership. I am 100% supportive of your efforts. Intercollegiate Athletics needs the proactive and forward-thinking you are providing. Thank you for this letter!”

However, for the broader membership within the NCAA’s Division I, there have been concerns about the financial and competitive consequences of this, particularly against the backdrops of Division I rules now allowing athletes to transfer once without having to sit out for a year, as used to be the case, and now allowing athletes to make money from their NIL.

To read the full story from USA Today about the proposal by the NCAA, click here.