NCAA D1 Board Approves "Autonomy" for the Big 5

Submitted by sadeto on August 7th, 2014 at 1:11 PM

As expected, the autonomy motion passed and now enters a 60-day comment period. If 75 D1 universities express disapproval, the board will reconsider. If 125 object, the motion is suspended. 



Edit: The comment period is for feedback from the D1 universities. If 125 or more object, the motion is suspended while the board reconsiders (if 75 - 124 object, the motion stays in place while the board reconsiders). The board can either withdraw the motion or reaffirm it; if the latter, it goes to a vote of all D1 institutions, with a 5/8 majority needed to pass. 



August 7th, 2014 at 1:43 PM ^

I hope it is the "beginning of the end."  I also hope the NCAA's shamateurism model goes out the window ASAP.  

AFAIC, we can thank the internet.   The internet has given "everyman" a voice.  Eventually, those who don't accept everything the NCAA puts out, such as the myth of the "student-athlete," have been able to make themselves heard.  

Now, instead of blindly following the NCAA, most people are questioning it.  An organization built on fallacy and hypocrisy usually doesn't fare too well in an environment of transparency.

I can't wait to see how much the first Heisman winner who gets a shoe endorsement while still in school makes.


August 7th, 2014 at 3:03 PM ^

Trust me when I say that the NCAA doesn't give a shit about what you, I, the media or anyone else thinks. You can stop patting yourself on the back.

My theory is that this is a quarantine move. The Power 5 have a massive antitrust problem when it comes to football. By separating them from the remaining schools, the NCAA can limit its damage to the past (because the remaining conferences may have TV deals but they aren't nearly as lucrative as the Power 5) and potentially ensure its continued existance no matter of how a court rules (although the NCAA basketball tournament contract is still problematic).

Under this theory, the Power 5 are taking most of the antitrust liability, which they would have the power to rectify economically in a way that doesn't require Sun Belt and MAC schools' approval and wouldn't drive them into massive deficits.


August 7th, 2014 at 4:57 PM ^

The "Power 5" have no more trouble with antitrust laws than any schools in any of the other conferences and divisions of college football.  They are more exposed to claims for misuse of images, for sure, but the antitrust thing is either an NCAA-wide conspiracy of some sort, or else bunkum.  


August 7th, 2014 at 5:16 PM ^

"It's the beginning of the end of the NCAA as the governing body for D1 athletics."

Absolute nonsense.  It is the exact opposite.  This is the NCAA realizing that, to keep the 5 former BCS conferences in Div 1 of NCAA football, it had to provide them with some seperation from the other Division 1 conferences.  This allows that, without changing any of the ruiles of the game, or abandoning amateurism, or anything else that makes college football college football.

The monied conferences (not just the biggest 5, but any other conference that thinks it can swing the finances) can provide increased benefits to the players, create more reasonable and modenr recruiting practices and limitations, and pay more attention to the needs of their players than the needs of the athletic director as Southwestern North Dakota State.

This makes the NCAA much stronger as the governing body of D1 athletics.

Everyone Murders

August 7th, 2014 at 3:44 PM ^

I think what you mean is that Notre Dame is the prettiest girl around, that she's really smart too, that you really love her - in part because she overcame her serious illness, that you haven't met her face-to-face yet, and that she died in a car accident which makes you sad but it's OK because she doesn't really exist.



August 7th, 2014 at 4:16 PM ^

I think they still have suitors.  The ACC just said we'll schedule 4-5 football games with you a year and let your other teams join our conference.  I'm also guessing if ND came to Delaney and said they'd like to joing the Big Ten, Delaney would be calling a vote for approval asap.


August 7th, 2014 at 4:27 PM ^

The ACC has made it clear that whenever Notre Dame wants to become a full member of the conference, they've got a spot. This is partially why the ACC is doing what they are with ND. It comes with the understanding that if ever ND needs to join a conference, they'll stick with the conference they have the best relationship with. 


August 7th, 2014 at 1:57 PM ^

That is to be seen. By no means is it guaranteed that the Big 5 institutions will get richer - this is an arms race and the D1 board just ripped up an arms limitation treaty. Will this mean Kansas, for example, can stop the bleeding in its athletic department, because they are now free to spend more money on athletes (providing their conference votes for that, that is)? I don't think so. The very rich will have even more power to dominate recruiting, and on the positive side to help their "student-athletes" down the road, but it remains to be seen what will happen to the bottom feeders in the Big 5. 


Edit: when I say "bottom feeders" I am, of course, talking about football. 


August 7th, 2014 at 5:32 PM ^

I don't know what you mean by this.  Why wouldn't these athletic departments survive?  Why would their conferences and ADs adopt policies that kill off their own athletics departments?


August 7th, 2014 at 5:45 PM ^

Say the Big 5 conferences decide that they want to increase the stipend the football (and possibly basketball players) get.  There are two ways to possibly do it.  One would be to leave it up to the individual schools to decide whether they want to increase stipend (Im assuming they'd put a cap as to how much the stipend can be) or the other might be they decide that all schools are going to increase the stipend to X amount.  If you're a bottom feeder at one of the Big 5 conferences you're in a tough situation.  You're Athletic Department might not be in the black and you either have to increase the stipend by the second scenario or you have the choice to not increase the stipend and realize that you might be at a recruiting disadvantage.


August 7th, 2014 at 1:51 PM ^

i.e. 300+ universities? And does it include schools thar are D1 for certain sports (Lake State hockey, Hopkins lax, etc.)?

If so, I wouldn't be surprised if they were able to drum up the 125 to oppose this. Even so, I don't understand why the South Central Tech State's of D1 get to decide what the real powers of the division can do. Tell em to shove it and leave anyway


August 7th, 2014 at 5:01 PM ^

This is for all D1 football schools, I believe. It only effects football.

And I believe that you are correct that this is the NCAA's preferred alternative to a new division, which will certainly be formed if the non-monied programs veto this move.

Mr. Yost

August 7th, 2014 at 2:02 PM ^

They're already talking about it and threatening it.

Either way, they're going to get what they want.…

I almost prefer that it doesn't pass and then they leave on their own. Then they can redo these conferences into something that makes sense. They won't, but it at least gives them a chance to redo this b/s.

It also gives the 5-10 or so schools that probably should be in the 65 an opportunity to leave and join up with the big boys. (Boise, UCF, USF, Cinci, UConn, etc.)

Mr. Yost

August 8th, 2014 at 5:47 AM ^

They're in a growing city and a major TV market.

No way they should be left out over many of the bottom feeders of the Big 5.

They're the 2nd largest school in the country and the fastest growing athletics department in the country. They're going to be Louisville (athletic department wide...minus basketball due to Pitino) in 8 years.


August 7th, 2014 at 2:09 PM ^

I think Mike Slive, quoted in the article (from a conference last month), basically lays that out right here:

“If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student‑athletes.”

I don't know that it is something you say outright like this unless you know you could - if necessary - walk away from it. I could be wrong there, but the rhetoric seems to indicate that there isn't much fear in simply walking away.

Whether or not there would be a mass exodus from the NCAA is something I am less sure of (but I am inclined to think that, if they feel all avenues lead to deadends, they will go), but I wonder if there would be a relatively quick move to at least attempt to form "Division IV", which would allow them to do what they are asking to do but nominally remain under the NCAA umbrella. It would definitely be the last resort for the Big 5 when it came to the NCAA, I would think.

If they went that route, they could simply take their current base Division I requirements (per Bylaw 20 of the Handbook) and add to / subtract from them at will and become an entirely different division in theory. Of course, if that became a bear to even contemplate, I don't see that there would be much choice but for the "Big 5" to go it alone and form an entirely separate governing body. 


August 7th, 2014 at 5:04 PM ^

It would be an exodus from Division 1 football, not an exodus from the NCAA.  No one, I don't believe, is talking about leaving the NCAA.  That would be incredibly difficult, given the wide variety of sports (and levels of participation among the 65) covred by the NCAA.


August 7th, 2014 at 2:02 PM ^

Every D-1 conference appears to get one vote.

Big Ten rep (MSU President Lou Anna Simon) obviously voted yes. One of the only two no votes came from very recently UM provost (now Dartmouth President and Ivy League representative) Philip Hanlon.

Mr. Yost

August 7th, 2014 at 2:11 PM ^

I know of at least 3 conferences that have agreed that every member will vote against this...(Big South, SoCon and CAA)...I have to assume the bigger conferences like the AAC/Big East, MAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, etc. will do the same.

I don't think they're going to have trouble getting the 150 votes or whatever they need to be honest. If this is only for 65 of 310...those other 245 schools are certainly going to be pissed. 

I could certainly be wrong, but IMO, this is headed to the Big 5 grabbing a few others and just leaving. It'll be interesting to see how it affects the big basketball schools that don't have big football. The old and new Big East schools. Because they certainly are big enough to compete with the Big 5 in the "other sports."

Will you be allowed to be part of this new Big 5 Athletics Association for football and the NCAA for all of your other sports? I doubt it. Wouldn't shock me if you couldn't even play each other. Which THAT would be awesome for us fans if the NCAA took their cupcake teams and said "NO MORE!" 

Another question I have is, how will the HBCU's vote? If I'm their AD, I'm voting for the Big Boys. They're shelling out a million dollars a game just for us to fly into their city and get our heads beaten in. That million is pretty much keeping my athletics department afloat. Take it away and we may not even have sports. Definitely not D1 sports.


August 7th, 2014 at 2:16 PM ^

Is it really going to be that easy to vote down?  Small conferences know that if they vote it down, there is a good chance that the power conferences simply bail completely.  I guess we will see how it turns out.


August 7th, 2014 at 2:22 PM ^

I think you've set up two contradictory premises: that it's a given that the smaller schools will all vote against it and that it's a given that the big schools will leave.  If it's that clearcut, then why would the smaller schools all cut off their nose to spite their face?  They aren't nearly so blind as to not realize what'll happen to their cash flow.

IME it's not at all such a done deal that the 125 objections will happen.  A 16-2 vote with only five "Big 5ers" on the board means the little-school representatives voted 11-2 to make it happen.  The MAAC commissioner already came out in support.  The Sun Belt commish sounds pretty resigned to the idea.  And this doesn't come to a vote without eons of time spent on politicking out the proposal in the first place.  I'd bet on this going through with only a handful of objections.

Mr. Yost

August 8th, 2014 at 5:52 AM ^

Voting against this doesn't mean the Big 5 leave right away...

It just means the little schools don't agree or want what is CURRENTLY being proposed.

It'll just have to be amended and reproposed.

That is why the little schools are going to vote note...just to try and change some of the language that has been written.

Zone Left

August 7th, 2014 at 4:42 PM ^

The Big 5 may take Notre Dame if the others them down, but that's it. There's zero incentive to take anyone else. USF, Boise, etc are doing well right now, but they aren't a net gain in terms of revenue or profit for the big conferences. Boise coming into the Big 10 wouldn't add $25MM / year to the conference's overall distribution.

That said, the rest of D1 probably doesn't vote this down. I think they may actually benefit from voting it down if they deemphasize sports, but that's not happening.


August 7th, 2014 at 5:10 PM ^

There seems to be zero incentive for the non-big-money schools to vote against this.  The smaller schools lose nothing, and get a new avenue for enacting administrative rules.  The Big 5 will almost certainly set up some kind of an oversight person or committee for football, whihc means the smaller conferences will be able to do so for themselves.  No conferemnce will be forced into taking on reforms just because the Big 5 conferences do, but they can cherry-pick the reforms and enact them much more quickly than they currently can.


August 7th, 2014 at 2:47 PM ^

Actually the ball would be in the NCAA's court not to F--- up March Madness by disinviting the Big 5 based on 'fairness'. They need those teams to be involved. The Big 5 actually don't need the NCAA's tournament, they could set up their own, but why wouldn't they try to strike a deal to stay involved? 

MI Expat NY

August 7th, 2014 at 3:00 PM ^

A "Big 5 only" tournament would not garner nearly as much attention as the current tournament format, and would thus lose them a ton of money.  A good chunk of sports fans don't pay attention until the tournament and then pay attention for a couple weeks as they cheer for their brackets and the cinderellas of the year.  Going Big 5 only takes away all that interest.  It'll limit the tournament to just those fans that actually pay attention most of the year.  


August 7th, 2014 at 3:27 PM ^

I think everyone involved surely realizes that the discussion is 1) football and 2) basketball / march madness and then almost nothing else. I think they'll find a solution to keeping the current march madness as is

Additionally, if the Big 5 pull out completely, it would almost end college hockey. There are only a small handful of Big 5 schools playing: Six from the Big Ten, Notre Dame, UConn, and Boston College. And I'm not sure the 50 or so remaining programs could manage to stay afloat without the Big Names around