364 days ago, the Supreme Court put an end to amateurism as we know it.
And over the past year, the sport’s various institutions other than the NCAA itself have generally taken a wait-and-see approach. It’s an understandable reaction when over 100 years of structure suddenly disappears in a wave of forced change from the outside. No one wants to spend time trying to bolster a dead system, and few dare to risk building a new system when there is so much uncertainty about what might be allowed and who would be willing to participate.
Instead, we’ve had lots of comments about what should happen, lots of vague proposals that may be under discussion, half-baked ideas that may or may not be possible.
Later this week, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff will participate in Commissioners meetings with all other FBS conferences. Chief among subjects, by an interview with The Athletic? The very governance structure of the sport as a whole:
“I’ve had conversations with several of the FBS commissioners, and I’ve been surprised by the unanimous support for the idea among people I’ve spoken to to remove football rulemaking and enforcement. NCAA football rules and invest it in a 10-conference run organization (FBS).
That the needs and wants of the 131 FBS schools may differ from the more than 350 D1 schools and hundreds of other NCAA lower division schools is far from a new idea, but the collapse of the NCAA model means that there is a huge opening for the institutions. who stay up (read: lectures) to make a power play and leave behind all the other schools that really have nothing in common with revenue-generating college athletics.
Of course, this kind of change naturally leads to a big question: who is included in any new governance structure, and how is power shared? A list of obvious questions that came to mind in about 30 seconds:
Do G5 conferences get as much power and influence as P5 schools, or do P5 schools get a strong arm in rules that boost their prestige?
Are FCS schools even factored into the conversation?
What about Notre-Dame? Is everyone okay with them being an ACC school, but not really?
Does this group even claim to care about basketball as a ticketed sport, or for that matter any other Olympic sport?
It’s pretty important to understand this, because it’s hard to answer more basic, mundane questions (eg, some sort of change in transfer rules) when no one even knows what the decision-making process will look like in a immediate future.
Perhaps the NCAA continues to limp to continue functioning as the decision-making body for all of these schools, but it’s hard to imagine that an entity with the kind of power the SEC wields will be interested in listening to DIII schools’ issues. .
But it’s also true that the P5 conferences can’t even reach consensus on a college football playoff structure, let alone an overall governance structure. The Big-10 and the SEC are natural rivals because they are the two richest conferences. The Pac-12 and the ACC no longer want to empower the B1G and the SEC. The Big-12 is suspicious of everyone else because they keep having their schools poached. When everyone is trying to maximize their own income, it’s hard to find a compromise.
I don’t expect any shocking news this week. But at some point critical decisions about the future of football in particular and college athletics in general are going to be made. If you’re worried about the direction of either, it’s a good idea to watch out this week as the conferences continue to struggle.