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Is the NCAA Starting to Feel the Pressure?



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).

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

12 Comments for Is the NCAA Starting to Feel the Pressure?

  1. Brian
    9:43 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    The NCAA tournament would drastically improve if with the elimination of the smaller conference schools if it could then go to a Best-of-3 format for each round. Really, what do you want to see more a UK-Duke or UNC-Kansas Best of 3 or one game of Wichita St. – LaSalle?

  2. Commie
    9:52 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    All schools should split the money even. This is the simple solution.

  3. Patriot
    10:02 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    Shut up, you damn commie!

  4. SuperCat
    10:38 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    Emmert is milk toast from Fife Washington.
    He caved and destroyed the U of Washington.
    Typical egghead PhD.
    He will cave again, and wreck the NCAA,
    that is good news!!
    NCAA abuse of these kids has to stop…

  5. not a fan
    10:47 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    Bablah bla babla blah blah blah. Blah blah blah, bla blah bablah bla bablab…blab bla blab blah. Blaw blawh Blah, blaw blawh Blaw. Bla bla blawh.

  6. It's the offseason
    11:08 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    It’s Sunday, June 2nd. You have anything better to offer No. 5? I saw something about this earlier in the week and thought it was interesting. Surprised it hasn’t picked up more attention. It is the first time that I am aware the NCAA has actually acknowledged the larger schools’ power to separate.

  7. Dude looks like a lady
    11:58 pm June 2, 2013 Permalink

    Dude looks like a lady.

  8. barn
    7:02 am June 3, 2013 Permalink

    4–abuse of these kids? lol. if it weren’t for universities giving these kids scholarships that pay for everything and then some above what a parent of a non-scholly student has to pay, many of them (especially football) couldn’t even get a job flipping burgers. how is it they’re being abused?

  9. Blueneck
    10:26 am June 3, 2013 Permalink

    Repeated talk of economic disparity yet the suggestions will only make the divide even larger.

  10. yupyup
    10:31 am June 3, 2013 Permalink

    If athletes may earn stipends to be compensated for their services, would unprofitable female athletes also be compensated? Wouldn’t Title 9 mess this up? Regardless, I’d rather not see college sports turn into a fundraising competition in order to attract the best recruits.

  11. Sheeeeiiit
    11:14 am June 3, 2013 Permalink

    I thought it was a good post. Interesting. Much better than the chick chat of late.

  12. Mark
    6:07 pm June 3, 2013 Permalink

    Me too #11.