Power 5 conferences pass new legislation

A former Minnesota kicker served as a Big Ten conference representative.

by Sam Kraemer

The Power 5 conferences took a historic step forward Saturday, using their autonomy to enact legislation to help cover the rising cost of attendance for student-athletes.

The legislation, which will take effect in August, increases the value of an athletic scholarship to cover the federally determined actual cost of attendance. It passed at the NCAA convention in Washington, D.C., easily with a 79-1 vote.

“It’s historic, first of all, in that these 65 schools are in a room by themselves with the ability to pass legislation,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford told the Associated Press. “… I’ve never attended a convention where the primary focus of most of what was being discussed was about the student-athlete and the student-athletes’ experiences.”

Representatives from every school in the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC were at the convention to discuss and vote on the legislation.

Fifteen current and former student-athletes, including former Gophers football player Chris Hawthorne, also participated in the discussion and voted on the proposal.

Saturday was the first time in NCAA Division I history student-athletes were included in the voting process, according to the Associated Press.

“I’ve been honored and privileged over the last year and a half to work with [the student-athlete advisory committee] at the national level representing the Big Ten and the University of Minnesota,” Hawthorne said.

Hawthorne, who now serves as the director of Falcon Club at Bowling Green State University, was one of three student-athlete representatives for the Big Ten at the convention.

“We have 9,500 individuals in the Big Ten that are able to balance an incredible schedule of academic, athletic, professional and other responsibilities,” he said. “It’s my job to work toward creating legislative change that allows us to better provide for those student-athletes.”

Bethany Brausen, a former captain on the women’s hockey team, said she supports the new legislation.

“I really advocate for the athlete standpoint, because unless you’re an athlete, it’s hard to understand you don’t have the opportunities to go pick up a job and get extra money,” Brausen said.

Brausen said many people don’t fully understand the financial landscape behind collegiate sports teams.

“There’s a common misconception that every student-athlete is on a scholarship, and that’s not true,” she said. “Having that extra money would really make a difference to pay the tuition bills. It probably would’ve made things easier.”

Living with a walk-on teammate, Brausen said she witnessed firsthand the tension financial issues can cause for student-athletes.

“I [saw her] stressed out because she [had] the same commitment but doesn’t have the time to go make some money,” Brausen said. “Having those little benefits really helps down the line.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.