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Big 5 Autonomy

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The NCAA Division I board of directors voted overwhelmingly to make the power five conferences (Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, ACC and Notre Dame) autonomous, which means they can write some of their own rules. 

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The new measures should be a boon for student-athletes, whose welfare has become the most debated topic in college sports, including the likely implementation of "cost of attendance" stipends, which was approved by the NCAA years ago, but voted down by the full membership.  Big five autonomy comes as no surprise to USC athletic director Pat Haden who has been pushing for change since his first days in the office.

"I've been arguing that we need to do more for these kids for years, and this is just the first step," Haden said. "It is great for student-athletes at USC.  Some of the things that we have done already with the four-year scholarships and the new meal policy we have, we'll just continue to do as much as we are allowed to do."

Some rule changes, like scholarship numbers, are outside of the power scope of the major conferences to ensure that competitive balance is not completely disrupted.  And, every institution will have the right to judge on its own if it can implement the new rule. 

The conferences have not decided on any new legislation yet, but Haden hinted that the first dominoes might start falling after the athletic directors meet in San Francisco later this month.  He would like to see athletics become less of a time commitment for all student-athletes, so they can enjoy the "complete college experience."

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