February 13th, 2014 01:15 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Big Ten, FBS, NCAA, SEC
According to Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, the push to allow big leagues and big schools more autonomy within the NCAA structure is just months away from reaching its conclusion. Hatch told ESPN.com that wealthier leagues (meaning the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) will be granted “a range” of autonomy hopefully as soon as August.
The biggest issue is the right for the big schools in the big leagues to offer full-cost-of-tuition scholarships to football players. What that dollar amount will be has yet to be decided, though most seem to believe two thousand bucks per semester is a likely endgame. Where things go from there — lawsuits over Title IX, lawsuits from players of non-revenue sports, a new players union — is anyone’s guess.
Hatch is part of a seven-member “steering committee” charged with making enough change to please the NCAA’s highest-dollar programs. As we’ve said for years now, there was never any real chance of a full breakaway from the NCAA. Such a move would have required too much work on the part of the big schools to build a new structure from the bottom up. No, the most likely outcome was a fix within the current model. Hatch believes that’s coming, though the new autonomy will only go so far.
“There’s a range of things that would not be under autonomy. Trying to distinguish what is and what isn’t is our current challenge. We hope the (NCAA Division I) board (of directors) can approve this by the summer.”
Tip: Don’t expect the conferences to be allowed to re-write the NCAA rule book carte blanche.
It will be interesting to see how the upcoming changes will play out over time. Some — like Alabama coach Nick Saban — believe the biggest schools should simply create their own super-division at the top of the NCAA food chain and schedule only amongst themselves. The smaller schools don’t want to lose the revenue that goes along with being an FBS-level football program (booster donations go way up) nor do they want to lose the big paydays involved with visiting the stadia of America’s top teams (like Georgia State traveling to Tuscaloosa to face Saban’s Bama squad).
The current movement is designed to keep all the current FBS teams as part of one club, albeit with some members a lot more monied than others.
At first blush, it would appear that big-money programs offering full-cost-of-tuition scholarships would more easily out-recruit the little fish. But, for the most part, the best recruits in the country are going to select SEC and Big Ten schools over Sun Belt and MAC schools anyway. So how much more powerful can the most powerful schools really become?
Again, it will be interesting — very interesting — to see how this new autonomous structure plays out over the course of the next few years.
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