THE FIVE POWER conferences of college sports want more flexibility in providing financial support to athletes.

A major reason they lack that freedom in the first place is other NCAA members have feared widening the wealthiest programs' competitive advantage. Now NCAA president Mark Emmert and the leaders of those behemoth leagues must convince schools with fewer resources that giving them greater autonomy is in the best interest of college athletics.

"What's really hard in these kinds of things is for people to vote themselves less political authority," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. "They don't do that. That's not a natural thing to do."

NCAA leaders are exploring ways to alter their governing structure, which would allow the colleges that can afford it to pay for certain expenses currently prohibited. That includes offering a stipend for the costs of attending school not covered by scholarships.

Emmert told reporters at the Intercollegiate Athletics Forum that members are "cautiously optimistic" an acceptable plan can be devised. Then again, he was confident 2 years ago that a Division I-wide stipend proposal would be approved. Instead, it stalled - partly because programs with less money worried it would force them to choose between unaffordable costs and falling further behind their richer rivals.

There are 340 schools in Division I, and only 120 of them are in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Just 62 are in the five power conferences.

In other college news:

* Madison Square Garden will host the 2016 NCAA Division I wrestling national championships - the iconic arena's first NCAA title event since the 1950 Final Four. The news came when NCAA officials announced 523 host sites for 82 championships.

Auto Racing

* Former General Motors executive Brent Dewar was hired as chief operating officer of NASCAR. NASCAR also promoted chief marketing officer Steve Phelps and senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell to executive vice presidents. NASCAR general counsel Gary Crotty was elevated to chief legal officer. The executive leadership restructuring reflects NASCAR chairman Brian France's effort to accelerate progress on changes in competition and research and development.

* The late Dale Earnhardt's famed No. 3 will be back on track in the elite Sprint Cup Series next season with Austin Dillon using the number. The move has been long anticipated because car owner Richard Childress has allowed his grandson to use the No. 3 as he's moved through NASCAR's ranks.

Philly File

* Temple sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named first-team all-American Athletic Conference. He led the nation in solo tackles with 99 and led the conference in total tackles with 137.

* Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings, the top-ranked American heavyweight, is scheduled to fight on an HBO boxing card at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 25. Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs) will face an opponent yet to be determined.

Sport Stops

* The U.S. Ski Team says Lindsey Vonn will skip this weekend's World Cup races in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and is planning to compete in a downhill on Dec. 21 at Val d'Isere, France. Vonn returned to racing last week at Lake Louise, Alberta, 10 months after tearing two ligaments in her right knee and breaking a bone in that leg during a crash at the world championships. She finished 40th in her season debut Friday, a downhill, then 11th in another downhill Saturday, and fifth in a super-G on Sunday.

* England's Daniel Brooks shot an 8-under 62 to take a one-stroke lead in the Nelson Mandela Championship after heavy rain disrupted the first round in Durban, South Africa.

* Valencia is facing the prospect of being sold in order to pay back the soccer club's debts of nearly 300 million euros ($415 million). The six-time Spanish league champion has been unable to keep up with loan repayments to Spanish bank Bankia, and few alternatives have appeared.