Renowned for his views backing student-athletes, Pat Haden feels the new Power Five conference autonomy, while expected and rather positive, provides leadership across college football a unique opportunity to better and more strongly support NCAA student-athletes across multiple sports.
After news broke Thursday that the Power Five Conferences (ACC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12, SEC) received voting autonomy in regards to major legislative issues, USC's Athletic Director Pat Haden was asked about his initial reaction to the reports.
"This isn't a surprise. This is a expected result, and I think it's good for student athletes," said Haden.
USC has largely been ahead of the curve in some major issues surrounding student-athlete welfare such as four-year scholarships, food plans and family travel/mourning benefits, and Haden firmly supports more action moving forward.
"(For) every single one of our student-athletes, it is a time sink," said Haden, focusing on the entire student-athlete commitment. "What we need...kids just need some more break time. For themselves, I think, (to) get away from the sport, stay fresh. But also to have a little bit more of a complete college experience."
While the ability to foster change is certainly one thing, creating resultant action can sometimes be rather complicated. Haden suggests that each individual institution should take a close examination of current practices regarding to student-athlete welfare in the hopes of empowering strong legislation in the near future.
"We have resources that will let us do more than say other conferences, but that's the way it's been for a long time," Pat Haden said about the permissive nature of this ruling.
This won't result in groundbreaking new rules or anything that changes the NCAA's business model. But autonomy will allow the rich schools to do common sense things that they've wanted to do for a long time. Here are a few examples:
Additional family benefits and changes to rules governing agents
In terms of utilizing this new-found power, Pat Haden feels the pressure shifts toward individual institutions ensuring that sound decisions take place.
"Every institution is gonna have to judge on their own what's right for them," said Haden, carefully adding, "I don't think you're going to have problem as long as it's equal for all."
While these programs are certainly beneficial, the mere idea of allowing such action speaks directly to some of the major issues that left USC in high water with the NCAA. Four years filled with scholarship sanctions and NCAA bowl bans, and the athletic brass sure haven't forgotten the manner in which these same issues were once botched.
"I don't ever think of irony when referring to the NCAA penalties," Haden jokingly responded regarding family benefits and trusts that once plagued USC.
While the Power Five Conferences have yet to decide what legislation will take action, things could take place rather quickly assuming everyone is on the same page.
Coming up on August 19th, university athletic directors from across the Pac-12 Conference will meet in San Francisco to address possible legislation that would be put up for voting proposal in the coming months.
"I've been discussing that we need to do more for these kids for years and I think this is just the first step."