COLLEGE PARK — In a historic move, the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors voted Thursday to grant its five power conferences the right to make many of their own rules.
The decision has to survive a 60-day override period. If it does, changes could go into effect as early as January.
Student-athletes likely will be the primary beneficiaries.
Paying athletes will remain off limits. But the Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-12 and Southeastern conferences are expected to find ways to provide more money to athletes, either through bigger scholarships or stipends to better help cover the cost of college living.
"How it will change us in terms of how we operate, we won't know until legislation is put through and what kind of legislation they want to adopt and go with," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said before preseason practice Thursday. "I think it's good that we have that. I think it's one step closer to the five conferences splitting off. I really do. But I think there are bigger issues now that you have ... in terms of who is really going to take charge, in terms of what's best for football. Yeah, you have this autonomy, but what are we going to do with that to get the collegiate model the way it should be or back to where it was? ...
"I think that's what we got away from, with all this recruiting kids too early. Hopefully, we can get back to that with these things, and then also give the student-athletes the things that they deserve, because that's my whole thing. I want to do whatever I can to enhance their experience and help them out, and I think that's probably the biggest thing from the autonomy standpoint.
"And I think what happens, too, from the autonomy standpoint is now the five conferences who have more means than the other conferences can do some things that [the other conferences] can't do."
According to ESPN, full cost-of-attendance stipends are expected to be addressed first. Stipends reportedly could be worth $2,000 to $5,000 per player.
ESPN also reported that players are likely to receive four-year scholarship guarantees.
The new rules also could allow for athletes to pursue paid career opportunities while still playing college sports.
"I'm all in favor of the cost-of-attendance [stipend] that they're talking about," Edsall said. "I'm in favor of having the guys on scholarship for four years. I think what's happened is, with the scholarship, people are telling guys to maybe remove them from their programs and move them on if they don't think they're good enough. I think the same thing from a health issue. What they've proposed there, I think that's all good. But I still think what has to happen is we have to sit down and really take a look at what's for the betterment of the game when it comes to recruiting and some of the other things that are out there that I think are issues with what's going on."