BERKELEY (KCBS) – UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks met in Newport Beach Friday with his Pac-12 counterparts to work out a joint plan for major changes in the way universities treat student athletes in order to get them more focused on academics.

The current model for college athletics has fallen out of balance in a way that’s harmful to both students and their schools, Dirks said, adding he would act unilaterally if the conference and the NCAA do not embrace proposals to treat student athletes as students foremost.

“If we can’t come to an agreement across Division I Athletics,” he said, there are going to be some schools, like Cal and I daresay Stanford, which will simply say no, we’re not going to professionalize our student athletes.”

Dirks and the other Pac-12 leaders have already sent the NCAA a list of ideas, suggesting the five power conferences adopt new rules that include shorter football and basketball seasons, fewer practices, and not letting freshmen play varsity basketball if the NBA doesn’t raise its minimum age requirement.

“We’re going to do everything we can at Cal to make sure we find the proper balance,” he said.

Dirks is also awaiting the findings of a UC Berkeley campus task force expected to issue a report on college athletics reforms this summer.

“I will take that recommendation very, very seriously. But in the interim, I’ve been working with other heads of Pac-12 universities to do what we can as a conference to try to get out ahead of what has become, I think, a serious challenge to the meaning of student athlete.”


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