Pac-12 university presidents have sent a letter to their colleagues at the other four major football conferences calling for sweeping changes to the NCAA model and autonomy for those leagues.
A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday night. It was sent last week to the other 53 university presidents from the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference.
Spurred in part by Northwestern football players' move to unionize, the Pac-12 presidents outlined a 10-point plan for reform that includes many proposals commissioners have been advocating for several years, including a stipend for athletes. The NCAA is working on a new governance structure that will allow the five wealthiest conferences to make some rules without the support of smaller Division I schools.
"We acknowledge the core objectives could prove to be expensive and controversial, but the risks of inaction or moving too slowly are far greater," the letter reads. "The time for tinkering with the rules and making small adjustments is over."
The full list of proposals included in the letter are:
Pac-12 presidents are asking for a response to the proposed reforms by June 4.
The plan comes after Northwestern University football players cast secret ballots April 25 on whether to form the nation's first union for college athletes. The results of the vote will not be known for some time.
The full National Labor Relations Board has agreed to hear Northwestern's appeal of a regional director's March ruling that the players are university employees and thus can unionize. Ballots will remain impounded until that process is finished, and perhaps until after any court fight that might follow a decision.
Part of the idea behind the proposal by the Pac-12 presidents is to get ahead of the issue and meet some of the demands that have been raised by Northwestern players and other athletes without "professionalizing" college sports.
The letter states "it is clear from the recent statements of any number of individuals that, while they may share or view that labor unions are not the answer, the time has come for a meaningful response both to the student-athletes' grievances and the need to reassert the academic primacy of our mission."