SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 27, 2014 - Sweeping reforms for student-athletes, including guaranteed four-year athletic scholarships, continuing education, improved health care, liberalized transfer rules, and more, were adopted today by the Pac-12 Conference in a vote of the presidents and chancellors of the Conference’s 12 member universities.
The changes made today follow closely the reform principles the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors outlined in a letter written to their peer conferences in May 2014.
“This fulfills a promise we made when we announced our agenda for reform earlier this year,” said chairman of the Conference’s CEO Group, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, who is president of Washington State University. “These reforms assure better support for all our student-athletes, reinforce that academics come first, and address the financial and health needs of our students.”
The Conference’s new rules apply to Pac-12 student-athletes across all sports, and include:
· Athletic scholarships will be guaranteed for four years for student-athletes in all sports.
· Student-athletes who leave school before graduating will be able to use the remainder of their educational expenses later to earn their degrees.
· Medical expenses for student-athletes who are injured during their college athletic careers will be covered for up to four years after a student-athlete leave the institution.
· Student-athletes who transfer between Pac-12 institutions will be able to receive athletic scholarships immediately.
· Student-athletes will be represented in the Conference governance structure.
Praising the reform package was University of Washington gymnast McKenzie Fechter, the chair of the Pac-12 Student Athlete Advisory Committee: “I'm proud to be a part of a conference that is pushing reform and doing more for student-athletes,” said Fechter. “These reforms are positive steps not only for those of us who are current student-athletes, but also for those who aspire to be Pac-12 student-athletes in the future.”
The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors also reaffirmed their support for incorporating the full cost of attendance for Pac-12 scholarship student-athletes. The 65 institutions that compose the five major conferences and 15 representative student-athletes will vote on this important issue at the inaugural meeting of the five major conferences in January.
Also discussed were next steps to strengthen protections for student-athletes against excessive time demands of intercollegiate athletics. The Conference will continue to examine this subject with its Council and fellow major conferences.
Conference Commissioner Larry Scott hailed the reform package: “As a former student-athlete myself, I believe these reforms will mean a great deal to student-athletes in the Pac-12. These reforms will ensure they enjoy a positive collegiate sports experience, and graduate with a meaningful college degree. This set of reforms also address various health and financial concerns that student-athletes have expressed to me in the many conversations I’ve had with them, while preserving the essence of the collegiate experience that has served so many student-athletes so well. I am very proud of the national leadership position our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, senior women administrators, faculty athletic representatives, and other administrators have taken.”
(i) Guaranteeing four-year scholarships that can neither be reduced nor canceled provided the student-athlete remains in good standing and meets his/her terms of the agreement. Effective in 2015-16, all financial aid agreements offered to incoming student-athletes will be multi-year agreements for no less than four academic years.
(ii) Financially supporting student-athletes who do not graduate in four years and return to school to complete their degrees. Effective 2016-17, if a student-athlete departs the institution in good standing and has completed a reasonable portion of their degree (50%), the student-athlete can return and receive necessary educational expenses for the remaining terms of the agreement.
(iii) Enhancing medical support for both current and former student-athletes. Effective in 2015-16, Conference schools will be required to provide direct medical expenses for documented athletically related injuries to former student-athletes for a period of four years after separation from the team or institution.
(iv) Liberalizing Transfer Rules within the Conference. The CEOs approved elimination of the financial aid penalty of the intra-conference transfer rule. Effective immediately, a student-athlete who transfers between Pac-12 institutions can receive an athletic scholarship from the second school without restriction, provided he or she is otherwise eligible to receive the aid.
(v) Increasing student-athlete representation in Pac-12 governance. The CEOs supported including student-athletes in Council meetings and giving them a meaningful role in its deliberations. Final recommendations will be determined June 2015.