With longstanding tensions rising between the wealthiest and most powerful programs and all other Division I members, the National Collegiate Athletic Association plans to study how its top division is governed, with an eye toward further separating the biggest programs from others, President Mark Emmert told USA Today. The biggest and richest programs have long dominated NCAA decision making, often getting their way on major decisions because of a veiled threat that they might break away from the rest and take their value to television networks with them. But the major programs' disproportionate power was memorialized when Division I abandoned its one-institution, one-vote form of democratic governance in favor of a representative system more than a decade ago.
Tensions have flared at various times when the larger and richer programs have sought rules changes that smaller programs either cannot afford or do not support, and at this month's NCAA convention, opponents blocked adoption of proposals to increase the value and length of athletics scholarships. In comments to USA Today Sunday, Emmert said the new panel would examine how Division I makes decisions, and unidentified officials cited by the newspaper said the association would consider some further subdivision of members in how they govern their programs, but not in who they compete against.