NCAA president Dr. Mark Emmert speaks to the media during the Final Four press conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 4, 2013.  Credit: Courtesy of MCT

NCAA president Dr. Mark Emmert speaks to the media during the Final Four press conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, April 4, 2013.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

The future of student athletes and the NCAA rests with two rulings which were handed down in recent weeks.

With a 16-2 vote, the NCAA Board of Directors passed a resolution on Aug. 7 that restructures the NCAA’s governing body.

The restructuring, which was proposed 18 months ago, will promote open communication with the public while building accountability and streamlining the NCAA’s legislative process, according to an NCAA report dated July 18.

Under the current model, athletic directors and student athletes do not have a voice in the legislative process, but under the new model they will.

Instead of an 18 member board composed of 11 university presidents from the football bowl subdivision and 7 presidents from the football championships subdivision, as well as Division I schools without football, the new board will be comprised of 24 members.

Those 24 members will be comprised of 10 presidents from the football bowl subdivision, five  presidents from the football championships subdivision, five presidents from division I schools without football, one student-athlete, one athletics director, one faculty athletics representative, and one senior female representative.

“We hope this decision not only will allow us to focus more intently on the well-being of our student-athletes but also preserve the tradition of Division I as a diverse and inclusive group of schools competing together on college athletics’ biggest stage,” Nathan Hatch, president and board chair at Wake Forest University, said in an NCAA article dated Aug. 7.

The NCAA’s restructuring is expected to streamline the process in approving new legislation concerning student athlete safety and well-being. Among the issues are extending healthcare coverage for student-athletes beyond graduation and athletic scholarships past eligibility, but the biggest issue is autonomy for the “Power 5” Conferences: the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Pac 12.

This autonomy would allow members of these conferences to create rules that only apply to them.

“We just have to be patient, not move too fast make sure whatever pieces of legislation we come up with is the right piece of legislation and ultimately benefits the kids,” Gene Smith, Ohio State’s vice president and athletic director said Sunday, following the Buckeyes’ football media day. “Over the next three to five years, we’re going to see a lot of change.”

In a July 18 NCAA article by Michelle Hosick, OSU President Michael Drake echoed Smith’s comments.

“We will begin to focus on student-athlete welfare in ways they will feel as early as next year,” Drake said.

The other major decision that occurred last week was the ruling in the antitrust class action lawsuit, O’Bannon v. NCAA.

According to, District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of O’Bannon and declared that the NCAA could not place restrictions on member schools that would prevent college football and basketball players from receiving a share of the revenue from using a player’s likeness.

“We made a decision as a conference not to discuss the O’Bannon case publicly,” Smith said at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Sunday. “Obviously, it’s an ongoing litigation, so I’m not going to comment on the O’Bannon case.”

OSU football coach Urban Meyer was also asked about both cases during a press conference on Sunday where he admitted that he did not know enough about either to provide comment due to preparations for the upcoming season.

When asked again about the issues, Meyer said, “Beat Navy,” while rendering a hand salute during a moment of levity.

Ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, became the lead plaintiff for the case in 2009, which named Electronic Arts, the Collegiate Licensing Company and the NCAA as defendants.

EA and the CLC decided to pay out a $40 million settlement to any athlete whose likeness has been used in their products since 2003.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NCAA is also expected to file an appeal on the O’Bannon decision.