Evolving technology has made it possible for anybody with a computer, a few high-tech cameras and a good Internet connection to effectively begin their own broadcast network. That has come to present a few challenges for the NCAA, whose current rules were not drafted with such a scenario in mind.

That background set the stage for a session at the NCAA Convention on Friday to revisit an August meeting in which NCAA staff, Division I members and conference and institutional broadcast network professionals discussed youth sports programming on conference and institutionally branded networks.

Current NCAA policy bans the broadcast of youth programming on such networks because of perceived recruiting advantages and possible amateurism violations. However, the public’s appetite for the broadcast of high school games and other activities is only increasing, broadcast professionals said at the August meeting.

Another complicating factor is the ownership model for each network. Kris Richardson, NCAA associate director for academic and membership affairs, said some networks are clearly branded and run by a particular institution or conference. Others are operated completely separate from the conference office, which has just licensed the use of its name. Still others have a separate operations base but the conference may have seats on the board.

“Should different structures be subject to different to levels of enforcement? That’s something we’ll be looking at,” he said.

Additionally, the ultimate ownership of the youth content is an issue. In some states, the content is owned and distributed by a state association. In other areas, each high school brokers its own broadcast partnerships. Whether the NCAA should insert itself in those discussions is another question that must be answered through membership study and feedback.

Joe D’Antonio, senior associate commissioner of the Big East Conference, warned that the issue of conference and institutionally branded networks could further the divide between the “haves” (those with branded networks) and the “have-nots” (those without) in Division I.

“How much are we going to be able to regulate this scenario before the whole thing just blows up?” he asked. “We seem to be heading down a dangerous path.”

Chad Hawley, associate commissioner for compliance with the Big Ten, acknowledged the inherent recruiting advantage, but that it came with the establishment of an affiliated network, not with any subsequent broadcasts on that network.

“The reality is, this legislation was written way before life as we know it now,” he said. “We’ve had to bend and stretch the rules to fit.”

Hawley said it was “bad practice” to try to regulate both types of media available and what content can be made available on those platforms. He suggested that a “best practice” document sharing guidelines for the networks would be the best course of action.

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