Autonomy Five conferences unveil details of meeting to ‘improve the experiences of students who play sports’

Representatives of the Autonomy Five conferences met in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, Jan. 20, to take additional action to “improve the experiences of students who play sports,” according to a press release sent out Friday by the Big Ten.

Over the last three years, the Autonomy Five conferences have passed significant reforms to help student-athletes succeed in college and in life.

Students who participate in intercollegiate athletics at the 65 institutions within the Autonomy Five conferences of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC will soon see changes to their athletics schedule to include more time away from athletics so they may pursue other endeavors. Previously-adopted reforms include protecting athletic scholarships from being canceled due to athletic performance, providing full cost-of-attendance stipends, and for the first time ever, a new structure that allows students to vote on legislative matters.

In addition to the six Big Ten schools, Boston College, Arizona State, Notre Dame and Syracuse (women) are schools with hockey that belong to the Autonomy Five.

“We are here to help students be successful in college and in life,” the five commissioners said in a statement. “In three years, we have taken many steps to further improve the experience of some 36,500 students in our five conferences. These students are great representatives of our schools and our goal is to help them earn their degree while playing the sport they love and, in many instances, graduate debt free thanks to the scholarships we provide.”

The following is a summary of the reforms that have been put in place, according to the news release:


• The Autonomy Five conferences, in consultation with students, coaches, faculty and administrators, approved changes giving students more time to pursue academics, work, internships, or additional rest and recovery.
• Students who play sports will have an additional 21 days away from athletics, in most cases.
• Student-athletes will be involved in the establishment of their schedules, allowing for more transparency for student-athletes than ever before.


• Prior to full-time collegiate enrollment, an individual who is drafted by a professional baseball team may now be represented by an agent or attorney during contract negotiations, without impacting future collegiate eligibility.


• To better protect the safety of students competing in athletics, medical officials at each school have “unchallengeable autonomous authority” in deciding a student’s ability to play a sport.
• A Concussion Safety Protocol was established to review each institution’s concussion management plan.


• For the first time in history, students who play sports at an Autonomy Five institution are receiving full cost of attendance benefits as part of their athletic scholarship.
• These students can receive stipends to cover expenses in addition to their scholarships.
• In total, with scholarships and cost of attendance stipends, students may receive benefits for tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation, general supplies, and personal expenses, allowing many of them to graduate debt-free.


• The Autonomy Five conferences voted to guarantee that athletic scholarships cannot be canceled for poor athletics performance.