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Pitt AD Pederson expects athlete benefits to be discussed at ACC meetings

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 8:30 p.m.

Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said Wednesday collegiate sports are moving closer to a time when student-athletes will receive additional benefits, possibly in the form of scholarship enhancements or a monetary stipend.

He added that such legislation — one proposal has called for a $2,000 annual stipend — may need to be limited to schools with appropriate resources, specifically those from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and ACC. Pitt is concluding its first academic year in the ACC.

The issue will be one of many discussed beginning Monday at the ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla. Pederson will attend along with basketball coaches Jamie Dixon and Suzie McConnell-Serio and football coach Paul Chryst.

“I can't sit here and tell you we are there yet,” Pederson said, “but we are nearing that time where we will be able to find something that makes sense and helps student-athletes out a little bit more.

“Potentially, we could make legislation that would allow us to do certain things but not require everybody else to do it. A lot of it is resource-based.”

Giving those conferences autonomy to develop customized rules would require additional legislation but make it easier to reach a resolution, Pederson said.

Another point of discussion at the three-day meetings will be the issue of football teams playing one more conference game per season. Schools play eight.

Pederson said eight make the most sense to him, an opinion he said he shares with many ACC officials.

“We voted for nine prior to Notre Dame (cycling through every school's schedule),” he said. “But (officials) said, ‘Hold on a second. That's not reasonable scheduling.' ”

Pederson said there doesn't appear to be much support for banning FCS schools from ACC schedules.

“There are a lot of good FCS schools that are willing to play you, and sometimes it's hard to find the other people who are willing to play you (without demanding a home game in return),” he said. “Especially if you are trying to keep seven home games.”

Pederson added there have been no recent discussions with West Virginia about resuming the schools' football series.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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