Knight group recommends FBS split from NCAA

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A commission of higher-education administrators recommended Thursday that the Football Bowl Subdivision split from the NCAA and form its own system of governance.

The Knight Commission, a reform-minded independent group of university presidents, former athletic directors and others, spent the past year studying the current state of college sports before making its recommendation. The group surveyed Division 1 leaders before deciding that the oversight of college sports is due for a major overhaul.

“Now is the time for big solutions,” Knight Commission co-chair Arne Duncan said during an online presentation Thursday. “That’s what people are looking for: big solutions, not incremental changes.”

The proposal would leave the 130 schools that participate in FBS-level football to form a new governance structure. That group already stands apart from most of college sports by using a separate group — the College Football Playoff — to organize its championship. The NCAA would no longer be responsible for overseeing the enforcement of rules, determining eligibility or creating health and safety guidelines for FBS football in this structure.

All other sports would remain under the NCAA’s control, including college basketball and the March Madness tournament. FCS football programs would also remain under the NCAA’s governance structure.

The Knight Commission does not have any authority to enact change in college sports. The recommendations were provided in hopes of being “an essential first step” for leaders in higher education to rethink the current model of governing college sports.

Knight Commission executive director Amy Perko said she met with NCAA president Mark Emmert on Thursday morning to share the group’s recommendations. The commission plans to present its recommendations to NCAA leaders in more detail in the near future.

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