It will evolve to be two divisions in one division. This is simply a cosmetic way for the D1 have nots to officially avoid the public humiliation a mass "relegation" would be.
For the past two years, the biggest conferences in the land have campaigned for the right to pay, er, I’m sorry, provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships to their student-athletes. While some media members have spoken of a complete split from the NCAA if the big boys don’t get their way, we don’t view that as a realistic option. It would be nigh impossible to create an entirely new sports “government” with new rules, new enforcement options, and a new leadership structure that all of the large-budget schools could agree upon. For that reason, we’ve envisioned a super-division at the tippy-top of Division I.
We still believe that will be the eventual result. The top 65-80 FBS schools will someday have their own “players get a little sump’m sump’m” division.
In September, however, word leaked that for now – for now — there would be an attempt to keep Division I intact with some power given to the biggest conferences to pass rules and regulations that impact only themselves. Instead of “separate but equal,” the scuttlebutt suggested the NCAA’s Division I would become “together but unequal.”
So much for the backstory. This week, Wake Forest president and Division I board of directors chairman Nathan Hatch has told USA Today that he doesn’t believe we’ll be seeing a super-division any time soon:
“From what I’ve heard in the association, I think people would like to have one Division I, but in some ways, a structure that will make certain differentiations between small conferences and big conferences. I think people like having one division…
I do think the big conferences have to be granted certain degrees of freedom; their issues are so much different than much smaller institutions that somehow if we’re going to have the big tent, one division, we’re going to have to take into account that they’re very different. There’s great unity on certain things like student-athlete welfare, academic standards, those sorts of things, and it’s one of the reasons we want to stay together.”
Hatch will head a subcommittee of seven Division I board of directors who will work with president Mark Emmert to cook up a this new legislative structure.
Should such a system come to pass, there will apparently be some mechanism that allows schools and conferences decide for themselves if they want to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships, if they want to provide more meals for their students, if they want to increase bowl per diems, etc. How such a system will work is anyone’s guess. And if Mike Slive, Jim Delany, Larry Scott and John Swofford aren’t happy with the end result, you can be sure super-division rumblings will begin anew.
Our guess? Super-division rumblings will indeed begin anew because the hybrid solution sounds like a Band-Aid rather than the full-scale procedure the biggest leagues desire. We shall see.