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Mark Emmert calls convention to consider NCAA reforms

Darron Cummings / Associated Press
NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledges that big changes to college athletics are on the way.

NCAA president Mark Emmert has called for a special convention next January to reevaluate how the top level of college athletics is governed, the Indianapolis Star reported.

The announcement comes after coaches and commissioners from the most powerful conferences with the biggest budgets vented their frustration over the past two weeks at media days ahead of the start of the 2013 college football season.

"There's one thing that virtually everybody in Division I has in common right now, and that is they don't like the governance model," Emmert told the Star. "Now, there's not agreement on what the new model should be. But there's very little support for continuing things in the governing process the way they are today."

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby indicated it could be time to create a new division of NCAA athletics that would allow the schools with the biggest athletic department budgets to act free of the financial constraints of smaller Division I schools.

The divide between the haves and have-nots became most obvious when proposals to allow cost-of-attendance stipends were defeated, reflecting the revenue gap created by a new round of huge television contracts for the five so-called "power" conferences -- the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12.

One year removed from the controversial sanctions he handed down against Penn State, Emmert has been blasted for his abrasive leadership style. He is also dealing with the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA and Electronic Arts over player-likeness rights, which could fundamentally change the nature of college athletics.

Under fire on all fronts, this looks like a Hail Mary pass by Emmert to retain some control over an increasingly frustrated electorate rather than a genuine push for substantive change.

The members of the gang of five have the ability to get what they want, in one form or another. They can bring along who they want, with the new American Athletic Conference already jockeying for inclusion as CBS Sports reported. January's convention should merely reinforce that.

The real question seems to be whether Emmert will last long enough to make it to January.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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