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The Power Five Power Play – From the Bird’s Nest

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Yesterday’s vote by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors to grant autonomy in some areas to the 65 schools who make up the Power Five conferences (plus Notre Dame) should not have come as a surprise.

Ever since the “cost of attendance” stipend was voted down by the full membership a couple of years ago, those 65 schools have threatened to form a new Division IV for athletics or even leave the NCAA and go on and do their own thing.  And, they made it clear they were serious.

Several months ago, the general consensus was they would get their wish.  It was only a matter of time.

The time came yesterday.  And, in this case, autonomy means auto-money.

The Power Five will now have the ability to decide things for themselves:  Cost of attendance stipend (anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 per student-athlete), increased medical insurance, even after eligibility is completed, four year scholarships and even providing transportation for players’ families for post season play.  In addition, you could see changes in the size of coaching staffs and different recruiting guidelines will all be on the table at some point…..all of which is designed for the schools to widen the gap between themselves and the other Division I institutions. That means they’ll get even more of the great players, even more of the television money, even more people at their stadiums.

Bob Bowlsby, Commissioner of the Big 12 conference, said this is all about higher education.

That’s a bigger spin than “I’m gong to beat you with this belt, but you’ll thank me later.”

No, Bob, this is not all about the student-athlete although there will be a benefit (namely cash) in their pocket.  The four year scholarship probably won’t graduate a lot more players because so few get it done in four years.

It isn’t raining, Bob, don’t tell me it is…even though my leg is wet.

The other five conferences (called the “Group of Five”) will have the opportunity to adopt those measures as well.  But those conferences have teams that are financially strapped to begin with…and every one of the proposals that come forth are going to cost money.  Lots of it.

The group of five would be crazy not to let their schools adopt these measures, especially if like conferences say yes.  The competitive balance, even within the group of five, would be thrown into a tailspin.  College athletics as we know it, would not exist.  This means schools like Louisiana, Western Kentucky (which recently dropped a men’s sport due to budget cuts), Ohio University, UNLV and East Carolina would have to increase it’s budget by $1-2 million dollars just to keep pace.

That’s a lot of dough.

Expect the cost of attendance stipend and the four year scholarships to be the first things on the agenda.  The Power Five have until Oct. 1 to get their items on the agenda.

We’ll learn a lot more then.  But eventually, you can expect most of the things talked about to become reality.  It’s just a matter of time.

The Power Five bullied their way to get what they wanted.  If programs around the country fall by the wayside because they can’t keep up in the process, that’ll be fine with them, even if it’s some of their own programs.  (Do you think Stanford is going to be able to continue to fund 35 different sports?)

Because there is, at the end of the day, one pie.  And, the fewer slices you have means that much more pie for the fat kid.

Like they didn’t have enough already.

 

 

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