The way scholarships and student-athletes are handled within the Pac-12 conference will never be the same after the conference announced numerous changes on Monday.
There are five new pillars of the so called "Pac-12 student-athlete reform package" the exact wording of which reads as follows:
(i) Guaranteeing four-year scholarships that can neither be reduced nor canceled provided the student-athlete remains in good standing and meets his/her terms of the agreement. Effective in 2015-16, all financial aid agreements offered to incoming student-athletes will be multi-year agreements for no less than four academic years.
(ii) Financially supporting student-athletes who do not graduate in four years and return to school to complete their degrees. Effective 2016-17, if a student-athlete departs the institution in good standing and has completed a reasonable portion of their degree (50%), the student-athlete can return and receive necessary educational expenses for the remaining terms of the agreement.
(iii) Enhancing medical support for both current and former student-athletes. Effective in 2015-16, Conference schools will be required to provide direct medical expenses for documented athletically related injuries to former student-athletes for a period of four years after separation from the team or institution.
(iv) Liberalizing Transfer Rules within the Conference. The CEOs approved elimination of the financial aid penalty of the intra-conference transfer rule. Effective immediately, a student-athlete who transfers between Pac-12 institutions can receive an athletic scholarship from the second school without restriction, provided he or she is otherwise eligible to receive the aid.
(v) Increasing student-athlete representation in Pac-12 governance. The CEOs supported including student-athletes in Council meetings and giving them a meaningful role in its deliberations. Final recommendations will be determined June 2015.
"As a former student-athlete myself, I believe these reforms will mean a great deal to student-athletes in the Pac-12," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "These reforms will ensure they enjoy a positive collegiate sports experience, and graduate with a meaningful college degree. This set of reforms also address various health and financial concerns that student-athletes have expressed to me in the many conversations I've had with them, while preserving the essence of the collegiate experience that has served so many student-athletes so well. I am very proud of the national leadership position our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, senior women administrators, faculty athletic representatives, and other administrators have taken."
So what exactly does all this legalise mean in layman's terms? Scholarships are now guaranteed to athletes for all four years they attend any given institution and cannot be taken away as long as they don't void the terms of the scholarship agreement. If a student-athlete leaves the school, but has completed at least half of their degree work, they can return and expect the rest of their education to still be covered by the scholarship.
If a student is hurt while playing for the school, then all medical expenses related to the injury must be covered by the school up to four years after the student-athlete leaves the school. Scholarships will transfer over if a student-athlete moves between two Pac-12 schools. Finally, athletes will have more say in what goes on in the development of rules and regulations within the conference itself.
This is a big step forward for the Pac-12, which is following in the footsteps of other conferences and can be considered a huge victory for student-athletes.