There has been a lot of talk in recent years on the possibility of larger Division I schools breaking away from the NCAA to form their own governing body. Our very own John Calipari has suggested that major college athletics are moving closer and closer to forming four “super conferences” that will have the power to break away from the NCAA if they so choose. This week, Mark Emmert met with leaders from the Big 12 to discuss the problems larger schools are facing within the current framework of the NCAA. Texas A.D. DeLoss Dodds suggested to Emmert that larger schools have issues that are unique to them and that BCS-level schools should be able to get together and vote on common issues that they share with each other.
Emmert didn’t disagree, and even went as far to say that it may be “the right thing to do”, but that a new subdivision could be formed for bigger, revenue-producing schools within the NCAA framework.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Emmert conceded that the idea could work within the NCAA’s current framework but ultimately will have to be decided by its member institutions.
“That’s not my decision,” he said. “That’s the members’ decision. And I hope they look at it. I think it would be healthy and the right thing to do.”
Emmert conceded that the biggest issues facing his organization include a growing economic disparity across the Football Bowl Subdivision, particularly among those institutions with huge budget differences from smaller schools outside the big conferences. UT led all NCAA schools with $163.3 million in athletic revenue in 2012. Louisiana-Monroe had the smallest athletic revenue among FBS schools with $11.3 million.
Emmert seems to acknowledge the reality that the money-making schools which help make his salary are fed up and want change. If he and other NCAA executives want to continue to earn their paychecks, they need to start to accommodate the needs of big schools instead of bullying them around with silly rules and inconsistent enforcement. They must let larger schools decide for themselves the way they want to function, or they will leave the NCAA and govern themselves. If bigger schools decide they want to create a stipend to compensate student athletes for their hard work, then they should be able to do so. If schools from the power five conferences want to allow their student athletes to wash their cars with a university hose without breaking an NCAA rule, then so be it. The bigger schools may keep more money to themselves and start doing things the way they feel fit (especially in football), but the alternative is a complete separation.
A complete separation would be very damaging to college basketball and the current NCAA tournament format. Kentucky would have been a part of March Madness last season if there were no automatic bids for small school conferences, but the sport as a whole would suffer (even if Chester disagrees). The dialogue between Emmert and the Big 12 is a necessary step in the right direction for the NCAA and their existence very much depends on it. Hopefully, something is worked out eventually to benefit everyone, including schools in our state such as Western Kentucky (in football) and Northern Kentucky. Both of these schools have moved up divisions and are admirably trying to compete at the highest level possible.
Smaller schools should continue to be able to compete at high levels, but big budget schools should not be held back by the NCAA and legislated a certain way in favor of smaller schools. If Kentucky (or Duke, Texas, Florida, Ohio State, etc.) wants to compensate the athletes that bring millions of dollars to their school, they should be able to do so whether Tulane has the ability to do the same or not. Perhaps, an extra subdivision could allow bigger schools to adopt their own rules on issues such as “pay-for-play”, while still allowing smaller schools to compete within the NCAA framework. Change is coming in some way, shape or form, and it’s good that the NCAA is starting to recognize it and attempt to adapt (or at least try to appear as if they are).