When it comes to a potential split within the NCAA, much of the talk is about when and how, rather than if.
As television revenue continues to empower larger conferences and pay-for-play proposals threaten to drain the budgets of smaller schools, college athletics nears a crossroads.
In other words: Should the wealthiest programs, especially in football, separate from the so-called have-nots, creating a sort of elite division?
“I think that’s a possibility,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said recently. “When you take a look at TV contracts, you take a look at people moving to different conferences, and the reason for that is to protect themselves financially.
“You have to have some freedom and not be held back. Not trying to slight anyone, but yeah, I think there should be some thought in that direction.”
Conference commissioners, such as Jim Delany of the Big Ten, continue to walk a thin, diplomatic line.
“I’m not looking for a football-only, monolithic grouping,” Delany said. “I’d like to see some restructuring, but not to the point where there is so much exclusion that important institutions don’t have a voice.”
NCAA president Mark Emmert said Thursday, as reported by the Dallas Morning News, that he is open to discussions on the matter.
“I think there (are) a lot of people who are interested in moving in that direction,” Emmert told the newspaper. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them propose something like that.”
When will this discussion result in action?
“I hear that talk like everybody else,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said. “Over the last 50 years, divisions have sort of worked their way out, or teams have moved up into a higher division.
“So I think it will correct itself at some point. I’m not ready to guess how that might happen, but in the next 50 years it won’t surprise me if somehow that changes.
“But I don’t see that happening in the next two to five years.”
Some worry the NCAA basketball tournament — which thrives on mid-major Cinderellas knocking off traditional heavyweights — could become an unintended casualty of a football-driven break.
“Football doesn’t hand-in-hand dictate what happens in basketball,” Barta said. “We look at every sport individually. … Basketball doesn’t automatically follow football. They’re different sports.”
Delany, who once played basketball for North Carolina, agreed.
“I think the basketball tournament is going to stay just like it is,” he said, “with the revenue sharing and the access.”
Because of TV, football’s future is less clear.
“I don’t see what I would describe as some radical separation by five conferences from the rest,” Delany said. “It normally and naturally happens as people separate themselves.
“They have a good television agreement, or agreement with the Rose Bowl or an ACC-Big Ten Challenge. That just happens, sort of in a natural process.” Just like most of the top rated (football) teams have come from these five conferences for 20 years.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football