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Proposed $2.8 billion settlement clears second step of NCAA approval. Big 12, ACC approve deal

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Proposed $2.8 billion settlement clears second step of NCAA approval. Big 12, ACC approve deal
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Proposed $2.8 billion settlement clears second step of NCAA approval. Big 12, ACC approve deal

2024-05-22 22:37 Last Updated At:22:40

A potential multibillion-dollar settlement of an antitrust lawsuit cleared the second of a three-step NCAA approval process Tuesday, and the presidential boards of two of the five conferences named in the complaint voted to approve the deal.

The NCAA 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 on Tuesday became the first conference to approve the settlement, with its board of university presidents and chancellors voting unanimously in favor, another person with direct knowledge of the decision told the AP. 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, SEC and Pac-12 presidents were scheduled to vote on whether to approve 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 upward 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 nearly $2.8 billion in damages over 10 years. A reduction of operating expenses, insurance and reserve funds is expected to cover about $1.2 billion. The rest would come from withheld distributions to 352 Division I member schools. 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 distributions 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 currently comprise 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.

In an earlier version of this story, the breakdown of how the NCAA will pay for $2.77 billion in damages was incorrectly stated as the entire amount being paid for by cutting operating expenses, insurance and reserve funds. The NCAA will cover nearly $1.2 billion through cutting operating expenses, insurance and reserve funds. Withheld distributions to member schools will cover the rest, about $1.6 billion.

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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)

DALLAS (AP) — Nick Saban is at SEC Media Days again, six months after retiring as Alabama coach.

This time he's asking the questions as part of ESPN's SEC Network coverage of the four-day event.

“I’m still a coach at heart. So I want to ask the coaches questions so that they can actually talk about things that they want to talk about, and maybe things that they want to be able to get out there,” Saban said Wednesday, a short time before his successor, Kalen DeBoer, made his SEC Media days debut as Tide coach.

“So I’m not trying to put anybody on the defensive,” Saban added. “I’m trying to help them express what they’d like to express about their team, or about a particular player, or about a position on their team.”

Saban, 72, retired in January after 17 seasons with Alabama and three decades as a head coach. The seven-time national champion will work for ESPN this season on its “College GameDay” Saturday pregame show.

He said he doesn't plan to be critical as a broadcaster.

“I want to be objective. But I don’t want to be controversial,” Saban said. “You could take any decision in any situation that anybody makes and make it controversial. Like, if we go for it on fourth-and-3, we would have 100,000 people in Alabama say, ‘I’m glad he’s going for it.’ And we would have 100,000 people say, ‘He’s a dumbass for going for it.’”

Saban has already made a headline, picking Georgia and Texas, not the Crimson Tide, to play for the SEC championship.

His former players noticed.

"He always said don’t let some guy who lives in his mom’s basement determine how you feel. I’m not going to let a guy who plays golf all day determine how I feel,” offensive tackle Tyler Booker said with a smile.

Saban said he has poured himself into the new job much as if he was still a coach. He prepared “a couple hundred hours” for his role on ESPN's NFL draft coverage. For SEC Media Days, he said he watched every team's spring game and called every coach in the conference.

“The biggest thing I miss is the relationships with the people, the players, the coaches, the staff and all the people that you work with, being a part of a team," Saban said. “That I miss. But, I also got to the point where it was difficult for me to sustain things the way I needed to sustain them, to be satisfied with myself that I was doing a good job. So the last year was hard. So, I said, maybe it’s time for somebody else. I don’t regret that.”

Saban was asked if major college football could ever install a commissioner, would be he interested in the job. He said that's a question for his wife, Terry.

“I try to go play golf at 7:30 in the morning. So I get home at 11:30,” he said. “I can’t get to the ninth hole without getting a text of ‘This is what I want you to do when you come home.’

“At least let me finish my round. It's not going to get done any faster.”

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

Former Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, left, and current Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer greet each other after appearing on the set of ESPN's SEC Now during the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days Wednesday, July 17, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Former Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, left, and current Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer greet each other after appearing on the set of ESPN's SEC Now during the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days Wednesday, July 17, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

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