The National Collegiate Athletic Association agreed to let conferences decide whether to give athletes a $2,000 annual stipend to help cover incidental costs of a college education.
The NCAA Division I board also adopted rules that ban schools from postseason play if they don’t keep their athletes on pace to graduate and boost academic standards for freshmen and junior-college transfers.
The board voted to let conferences decide on the stipend, which could be used for anything from a flight home to pizza with friends. The figure will be adjusted according to the consumer price index.
“This is about trying to cover more of the legitimate expenses of our student athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said on a media conference call. “The need for paying expenses in addition to the old scholarship model are very real.”
Schools also will be allowed to award multiyear scholarships. Currently, they are awarded on a one-year basis and athletes who perform below expectations can lose their scholarships. It also gives schools another way to compete for recruits.
On academics, Emmert said the new rules -- if in effect during the last school year -- would have kept seven teams out of the 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament, including the eventual champion, the University of Connecticut. It would have prevented eight of the 70 football teams that played in a bowl from competing.
“The board passed the three most significant initiatives in NCAA history that will ensure student academic success,” said Walter Harrison, chairman of the NCAA’s Division I committee on academic performance and president of the University of Hartford.
“I believe we’ll look back on today as a historical occasion,” he said.
For the postseason rule, schools will have to earn a 930 score on the Academic Progress Rate -- about a 50 percent graduation rate -- to participate in postseason play, including football bowl games.
The new requirement will take effect beginning in the fall of 2012, and will have a two-year implementation before the benchmark moves from 900 to 930. To compete in the postseason in 2012-13 and 2013-14, teams must have scored 900 in multiple years or averaged a 930 during the two most recent years.
In 2014-15, teams that don’t average a 930 over the previous four years or at least a 940 average for the most recent two years will be ineligible for postseason competition.
For junior-college students enrolling in August 2012, the NCAA will require transfers to have a 2.5 grade-point average, up from 2.0, and no more than two physical-education classes.
It also will require high-school students enrolling in August 2015 to have completed 10 of the 16 total required core courses before the start of their senior year, and seven of the 10 must be in English, math and science.
The board voted to create an academic redshirt year, in which athletes who under-perform coming out of high school can still receive a scholarship and practice with their team, but can’t travel or participate in games.
Under the new rules, students who meet the current minimum standard on the standardized test score/grade-point average sliding scale with at least a minimum 2.0 core-course grade point average would continue to be eligible for a scholarship their freshman year. The rule increases the bar for competition to at least a 2.3 grade point average on a sliding scale.
For example, an SAT score of 1,000 would require a 2.5 high school core-course grade-point average, but just a 2.0 grade-point average to receive a scholarship and to attend practice.