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June 5, 2014 at 2:01 PM

UW, WSU presidents discuss Pac-12′s push for NCAA reform

University of Washington president Michael K. Young, right, welcomes new Husky football coach Chris Petersen, left, to the stage at a packed news conference, Mon. Dec. 9, 2013, in Seattle. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

University of Washington president Michael K. Young, right, welcomes new Husky football coach Chris Petersen, left, to the stage at a packed news conference, Mon. Dec. 9, 2013, in Seattle. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

If you haven’t had a chance to read it today, check the NCAA reform story by Bud Withers, who caught up with UW president Michael Young and WSU president Elson Floyd to assess the climate of college athletics. The Pac-12 presidents, you’ll recall, made a recent proposal to their “Big Five” colleagues in which they outlined a 10-point plan for NCAA reform.

Some highlights from Withers’ story:

Exhibit A in the Big Five’s quest for autonomy is the so-called cost-of-attendance issue. The law has long recognized incidental expenses as part of federally funded full scholarships, but NCAA rides allow only tuition, room and board and books, and the bigger schools would like to close that gap.

Young believes that inequity has something to do with indiscretions like the two Oregon basketball players who sold apparel for cash last season, and before that, the Ohio State case in which football players exchanged clothing and memorabilia for tattoos.

“This is not kids going out and getting $50,000 under the table and buying a Hummer or Land Rover,” he says. “Most of the time it’s kids selling their jersey for pizza, and that just isn’t right.”

But when an NCAA measure for a $2,000 stipend to athletes passed administrative hurdles, it was rejected by the full membership. Some smaller schools can’t afford it.

“If you’ve got a $6 million athletic budget, you shouldn’t be worrying about what I do,” Young contends. “You’re never going to compete with us. We don’t recruit the same players. We don’t even play on the same field. It just doesn’t matter.”

The presidents are nothing if not bold. They broach the idea of returning to freshman ineligibility in men’s basketball, and they want to liberalize transfer rules, which would piggyback on the NCAA’s kinder-gentler move that allows immediate eligibility of graduate transfers.

Young notes that in law, his academic pursuit, students commonly transferred based on available curriculum or the departure of a Ph.D. professor. Referring to Bellevue recruit Budda Baker’s change of heart from Oregon to Washington, Young says, “I think he changed his commitment because I think he saw Chris Petersen was passionate about discipline and that was exactly the same way he was. If Chris had left and somebody came in whom Baker didn’t think he was going to thrive under … I don’t know if kids should be held to that.”

Again, Withers touches on a lot of important issues. The full story is worth a read.

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