by Mike DuPont II
The landscape of collegiate athletics continues to evolve by the millisecond.
The NCAA Division I board of directors voted 16-2 to allow the schools in the top five conferences the freedom of writing many of their own rules on Thursday. The autonomy measures will allow those leagues to make decisions on things like cost-of-attendance stipends and insurance benefits for players.
Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt joined "The Morning Drive on Double T 1043 to discuss the ruling and how it will impact Tech athletics and intercollegiate athletics as a whole.
Hocutt first addressed the notion of specific sports being singled out when considering appropriations, prefacing his comments by stating there is dialogue still needing to take place.
"I have heard no discussion up to this point in time that it would be just football," he said. "We're committed to all sports that we sponsor and right now we award approximately 235 full scholarships each academic year at Texas Tech University. When you look at cost of attendance at $4400 and we award 235 scholarships, and that's for the fall and spring semesters, you add the summer semesters in you're looking at over $1 million of expenditures that we would have to build into our fiscal year  budget.
"There's obviously cost implications but at the end of the day it's the right thing to do as we look forward in building that new landscape in intercollegiate athletics."
Hocutt explained the $4400 cost of attendance is the difference between what grants and financial aid currently covers and what everything would cover under the new legislation.
Hocutt said he was ultimately pleased with the decision, although he wants to make sure providing student-athletes an avenue to pursue higher education remains a focal point moving forward.
"It's a great opportunity for us and I'm confident that we will move forward very diligently and very smart. I think we all recognize that change is needed and change is happening," he said. "At the same time, I want us to be very careful and mindful that we are a component of higher education. Yes, we want to compete at the highest level and we want to win but at the same time we bring these young people to our campus to receive their degree and gain an education that's going to benefit them for the rest of their lives."
Although Hocutt expressed the ruling was a pivotal step forward, he recognizes a parity still remains between schools across the nation and even within the Big 12 Conference.
"You've got to make decisions that are in the best interest of your University and you can't think that there is a level playing field across the country within Division I and if you even look within the Big 12 Conference, there's differences in our budget," he said. "So, as we always do, we will look at the opportunities and we will make the best decisions in the interest of Texas Tech and do as much as we can to benefit and serve our student athletes.
"Yesterday was a very positive day -- it was a step forward -- a necessary step forward for us to move in to this new world and the new relationships that we can have with our student athletes."