The committee has proposed removing the N.C.A.A.’s existing, detailed nondiscrimination pledge from the constitution, prompting criticism from groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally. The leaders of those organizations, Joni Madison and Hudson Taylor, urged N.C.A.A. leaders last week to include an “enumerated policy providing nondiscrimination protections for all athletes.”
Gates argued that the draft’s provisions on diversity and gender equity “are pretty strong statements that discrimination won’t be tolerated.”
Those sections declare that the N.C.A.A. is “committed to diversity and inclusion,” say that conferences and schools “shall create diverse and inclusive environments” and that divisions, conferences and schools have the responsibility to follow laws concerning gender equity. College sports activities, the draft adds, “shall be conducted in a manner free of gender bias,” a subject that surfaced widely this year after disparities between the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments.
But some longstanding N.C.A.A. systems and policies are likely to remain the same or close to it. A 1996 formula for revenue allocations for Divisions II and III, for instance, will probably stay untouched, in no small part because the schools in those divisions control most of the votes inside the N.C.A.A.
Will this affect the College Football Playoff’s possible expansion?
No. Ten conferences and Notre Dame run the playoff, and the N.C.A.A. has no control over it.
Any changes to Division I could ultimately influence the playoff and the universities that reach it, but the word “playoff” does not even appear in the draft constitution.
Why is the N.C.A.A. doing this?
Mostly because it realizes it does not have much choice.
The N.C.A.A. has been a legal pincushion for years, and it has lately come under scrutiny not just from the courts but also politicians at the state and federal levels. The Supreme Court’s ruling this summer, though, alarmed many industry officials because it left the N.C.A.A. even more vulnerable to challenges under antitrust law.
The push to rewrite the constitution amounts to an effort to give the N.C.A.A. more legal cover, though Gates denied that was the association’s principal motivation. Either way, some scholars are skeptical that the N.C.A.A. will improve its legal position significantly and believe that the association will still wind up fighting plenty of court battles.