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Columbia's president rebuts claims she has allowed the university to become a hotbed of antisemitism

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Columbia's president rebuts claims she has allowed the university to become a hotbed of antisemitism
News

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Columbia's president rebuts claims she has allowed the university to become a hotbed of antisemitism

2024-04-18 05:36 Last Updated At:05:40

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Columbia University’s president took a firm stance against antisemitism in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, but she faced bruising criticism from Republicans who say her actions haven’t supported her words, especially when it comes to disciplining faculty and students accused of bias.

Nemat Shafik's visit to Capitol Hill was a reprise of a December hearing that led to the resignations of presidents at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania. It's part of a Republican campaign to investigate antisemitism at America's most prestigious universities since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

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Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Columbia University’s president took a firm stance against antisemitism in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, but she faced bruising criticism from Republicans who say her actions haven’t supported her words, especially when it comes to disciplining faculty and students accused of bias.

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Claire Shipman, Board of Trustees co-chair of Columbia University testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Claire Shipman, Board of Trustees co-chair of Columbia University testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

David Greenwald, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

David Greenwald, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia President Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia President Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia University president Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia University president Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

FILE - The statue of Alma Mater on the campus of Columbia University in New York, Oct. 10, 2007. Four months after a contentious congressional hearing led to the resignations of two Ivy League presidents, Columbia University’s president is set to appear before the same committee over questions of antisemitism and the school’s response to escalating conflicts on campus. Nemat Shafik, Columbia’s president, was originally asked to testify at the House Education and Workforce Committee’s hearing in December, but she declined, citing scheduling conflicts. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

FILE - The statue of Alma Mater on the campus of Columbia University in New York, Oct. 10, 2007. Four months after a contentious congressional hearing led to the resignations of two Ivy League presidents, Columbia University’s president is set to appear before the same committee over questions of antisemitism and the school’s response to escalating conflicts on campus. Nemat Shafik, Columbia’s president, was originally asked to testify at the House Education and Workforce Committee’s hearing in December, but she declined, citing scheduling conflicts. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

After the other Ivy League presidents’ equivocation led to weeks of backlash, Shafik focused her message on fighting antisemitism rather than protecting free speech.

“Antisemitism has no place on our campus, and I am personally committed to doing everything I can to confront it directly,” Shafik said in her opening comments.

On key questions, she took a more decisive stance than her Ivy League colleagues, who gave lawyerly answers when asked if calls for the genocide of Jews would violate campus policies. Asked the same question, Shafik and three other Columbia leaders responded definitively: yes.

But Shafik hedged on whether certain phrases invoked by some supporters of the Palestinians rise to harassment.

Rep. Lisa McClain, a Republican from Michigan, asked her if phrases such as “ from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free ” or “long live intifada” are antisemitic.

“I hear them as such, some people don't,” Shafik said.

McClain posed the same question to David Schizer, who leads an antisemitism task force at Columbia. He said those phrases are antisemitic.

It was a shaky moment for an Ivy League president who otherwise dodged the gotcha questions that turned the previous hearing into a frenzy for Republicans, who cast elite schools as hotbeds of hatred toward Jews.

Unlike in December, much of the questioning on Wednesday focused on Columbia's handling of faculty who are accused of antisemitism. Given the protections offered by university tenure, disciplining faculty is a thorny question for universities whose professors are weighing in on the Israel-Hamas war.

Shafik was hammered on the issue by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican and a driving force behind the hearings.

Stefanik asked about Mohamed Abdou, a visiting Arab studies professor who expressed support for Hamas on social media after Oct. 7. Shafik said she shared Stefanik's “repugnance” over Abdou’s comments, adding that he had been terminated.

“He is grading his students’ papers and will never teach at Columbia again,” she said.

“Mr. Abdou is not grading papers right now,” Stefanik later countered. She said she heard Abdou attended a pro-Palestinian demonstration at Columbia Wednesday morning, in apparent violation of the school’s new rules limiting protests to certain hours and locations.

Shafik was also grilled over Columbia's handling of Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics, accused of calling the Oct. 7 attacks “awesome,” “astonishing,” “astounding” and “incredible.”

Shafik said Massad had been reprimanded and removed as chair of an academic review committee. When Stefanik revealed that a Columbia website still listed Massad as the committee chair, she demanded Shafik's commitment to remove him from the post.

“I think that would be — I think I would — yes,” Shafik said.

Massad is a tenured professor, which generally brings added protection against firing, including for expressing controversial opinions. When asked if Massad could lose his job, Shafik wouldn't give a clear answer.

“There are some very complex issues around tenure,” she said.

In a comment to the Associated Press, Massad denied being reprimanded. He said members of Congress distorted his comments, and he disputed praising the killing of 1,200 Jews. Massad said he was not removed as chair of the academic review committee and that his term ends in the coming weeks.

Columbia professor Marcel Agüeros, a leader at the college's chapter of the American Association of University presidents, expressed dismay at how much Shafik conceded to Republicans on faculty discipline.

“The university has processes, and those processes are intended to protect academic freedom,” he said. “Faculty whose speech is not necessarily what I would say myself, they have a right to that speech.”

Complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia have been on the rise at the New York campus of 35,000 students, prompting the school to adopt new limits on demonstrations. Protests can be held only on weekdays at certain times and locations, with advance notice to school officials.

Some civil rights groups, students and faculty say the policy curbs free expression. But Shafik cited it as evidence that the school is serious about protecting students, saying 15 students have been suspended and six are on probation for breaches.

"I promise you, from the messages I’m hearing from students, they are getting the message that violations will have consequences,” she said.

Her vision clashes with one presented by Republicans in Congress and some Jewish students who say antisemitism goes unchecked at Columbia, citing a Jewish student who was beaten on campus while putting up posters of Israeli hostages, and protesters who chanted phrases that some consider a call for the genocide of Jews.

“The problem is, action on campus doesn’t match your rhetoric today,” said Rep. Aaron Bean, a Florida Republican. “Your students, their message is quite different. Their message is one of fear.”

Some Columbia students who support Palestinians were frustrated they were not allowed into the hearing.

“This is not an honest conversation that we are having today in this committee,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota who is Muslim, after speaking with the students.

The December hearing featured the Harvard and Penn presidents, as well as the leader of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During heated questioning, Stefanik asked them whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” would violate each university’s code of conduct.

Liz Magill, then-president of Penn, and Claudine Gay, then-president of Harvard, both said it would depend on the situation. MIT president Sally Kornbluth said she had not heard of anyone calling for the genocide of Jews on campus, and that speech “targeted at individuals, not making public statements,” would be considered harassment.

Almost immediately, the careful responses from the university presidents drew criticism from donors, alumni and politicians. Magill resigned soon after the hearing and Gay stepped down in January following accusations of plagiarism.

Binkley reported from Los Angeles

The Associated Press’ education coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Claire Shipman, Board of Trustees co-chair of Columbia University testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Claire Shipman, Board of Trustees co-chair of Columbia University testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

David Greenwald, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

David Greenwald, Board of Trustees Co-Chair, Columbia University, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia President Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia President Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Professor David Schizer, Dean Emeritus and Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law & Economics, Columbia Law School, testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia University president Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Columbia University president Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions Columbia University president Nemat Shafik during the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President of Columbia University Nemat Shafik testifies before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on "Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University's Response to Antisemitism" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

FILE - The statue of Alma Mater on the campus of Columbia University in New York, Oct. 10, 2007. Four months after a contentious congressional hearing led to the resignations of two Ivy League presidents, Columbia University’s president is set to appear before the same committee over questions of antisemitism and the school’s response to escalating conflicts on campus. Nemat Shafik, Columbia’s president, was originally asked to testify at the House Education and Workforce Committee’s hearing in December, but she declined, citing scheduling conflicts. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

FILE - The statue of Alma Mater on the campus of Columbia University in New York, Oct. 10, 2007. Four months after a contentious congressional hearing led to the resignations of two Ivy League presidents, Columbia University’s president is set to appear before the same committee over questions of antisemitism and the school’s response to escalating conflicts on campus. Nemat Shafik, Columbia’s president, was originally asked to testify at the House Education and Workforce Committee’s hearing in December, but she declined, citing scheduling conflicts. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

A potential multibillion-dollar settlement of an antitrust lawsuit cleared the second of a three-step NCAA approval process Tuesday, with no change to a payment structure that would have the 27 college conferences not named in the suit cover the majority of a $1.6 billion portion of the damages.

The Division I Board of Directors voted to move forward on a proposed $2.77 billion settlement of House vs. NCAA, according to two people who had been briefed on the vote. They said the vote was not unanimous, but it was unclear exactly how the 24 member-board voted.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the NCAA was not revealing its internal discussions related to the settlement. The NCAA Board of Governors still must sign off on the deal for final approval. It is scheduled to meet later this week.

The D-I board's finance committee recommended on Monday to stick with the original finance plan for the settlement, which has drawn the ire of non-power conference leaders who believe their leagues will bear a disproportionate financial burden.

The NCAA, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference are defendants in the House case, a class-action lawsuit that seeks back pay for college athletes who were denied name, image and likeness compensation dating to 2016. The NCAA lifted its ban on athletes earning money for sponsorship and endorsement deals in 2021.

The Big 12 became the first conference to approve the settlement Tuesday, with their board of university presidents and chancellors voting unanimously in favor, another person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conferences were not making any public statements about the settlement for now.

Later Tuesday, the ACC presidents also voted to approve the settlement, according to a person with knowledge of their vote who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Big Ten and SEC presidents were scheduled to vote on the settlement deal later this week.

Moving forward, it will be the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and SEC making the largest investment as the settlement includes a proposed revenue-sharing system that asks their schools to commit upwards of $20 million per year to be paid directly to athletes. The overall commitment is expected to be about $300 million per school over 10 years.

The NCAA office is set to cover $2.77 billion in damages over 10 years through a reduction of operating expenses, insurance and reserve funds. Withheld distributions to its 352 Division I member schools would cover the rest. The NCAA distributes more than $700 million per year to its 1,100 member schools in three divisions, the vast majority to Division I.

The approved finance plan for the settlement calls for the NCAA to cover 41% of the $2.77 billion in damages, with the Power Five conferences accounting for 24% and the other five major college football conferences — the so-called Group of Five — covering 10%.

The conferences that compete in the second tier of Division I football, the Championship Subdivision, would cover 14% of the overall settlement and the non-football D-I conferences would be on the hook for 12%.

The conference commissioners from leagues that do not compete at the highest tier of Division I football, the Bowl Subdivision, have taken issue with the $1.6 billion in withheld distribution portion of the settlement.

The 27 conferences not named in the lawsuit are expected to cover 60% of withheld distributions, with the other 40% coming from power conferences that are currently comprised of 69 schools.

The commissioners of the 22 non-FBS conferences sent a memo to NCAA leadership, proposing the finance structure be flipped so power conference withheld distributions cover 60% of the $1.6 billion.

Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said earlier Tuesday the non-FBS conferences were holding out hope for reconsideration.

"We’re fighting uphill," he said.

The Big Sky is one of the most successful conferences in the Championship Subdivision, with schools such as Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington, Idaho State and Weber State.

“We believe over 95% of the damages are going to go to (Power Five) football and basketball players. For non-A5 conferences to pay for that is disproportionate. We’re asking for a more proportionate structure because our student-athletes are not going to see the money," Wistrcill said,

Plaintiffs' lawyers have given the NCAA and conferences until Thursday to respond to the settlement proposal, with parties on both sides sounding hopeful that it will be approved.

The conferences not named in the lawsuit did not find out about details of the proposed settlement until two weeks ago through media reports, Wistrcill said. He said they are hoping the settlement can be approved with an opportunity for the NCAA financing plan to be readdressed, but the prospects of that diminished even further with the full board's approval Tuesday night.

Wistrcill said the formula for withheld distributions the NCAA is using, which is based on the percentage a conference received of overall NCAA distributions between 2016-2024, is projected to cost the Big Sky around $3 million per year over 10 years.

He said while power conferences will have a larger total distribution withheld on a per school basis, that revenue is a much smaller part of athletic department budgets that typically soar past $100 million annually. It also does not take into account the huge influx of revenue those schools are about to receive from the expanded College Football Playoff.

Big Sky school athletic budgets run about $20 million annually.

“The money is flowing to their student-athletes while disproportionately (the settlement) is penalizing our institutions,” Wistrcill said.

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FILE - Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson dribbles past the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament March 26, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. University presidents around the country are scheduled to meet this week in May 2024, to vote on whether to accept a proposed settlement of an antitrust lawsuit that would cost the NCAA nearly $3 billion in damages. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson dribbles past the NCAA logo during practice at the NCAA men's college basketball tournament March 26, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. University presidents around the country are scheduled to meet this week in May 2024, to vote on whether to accept a proposed settlement of an antitrust lawsuit that would cost the NCAA nearly $3 billion in damages. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FILE - In this April 25, 2018, file photo, the NCAA headquarters is shown in Indianapolis. University presidents around the country are scheduled to meet this week in May 2024, to vote on whether to accept a proposed settlement of an antitrust lawsuit that would cost the NCAA nearly $3 billion in damages. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

FILE - In this April 25, 2018, file photo, the NCAA headquarters is shown in Indianapolis. University presidents around the country are scheduled to meet this week in May 2024, to vote on whether to accept a proposed settlement of an antitrust lawsuit that would cost the NCAA nearly $3 billion in damages. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

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