ON FOOTBALL: Can 5 power conferences get freedom they want without cutting off rest of FBS?

  • Article by: RALPH D. RUSSO , AP College Football Writer
  • Updated: July 23, 2013 - 6:50 PM

NEW YORK — The five power conferences are trying to redefine what it takes to operate a Division I college athletic program, with their commissioners calling out the NCAA at media days around the country.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and fellow commissioners Mike Slive of the Southeastern Conference and John Swofford of the Atlantic Coast Conference have taken turns critiquing the NCAA over the last week, and it's likely Jim Delany of the Big Ten and Larry Scott of the Pac-12 will follow suit in the coming days.

The schools in the most powerful and wealthy leagues want more freedom to be able to run their programs the way they want, without the less powerful schools standing in the way.

Does this mean the end of the NCAA as we know it is near? Or will there be a new division of college football — Division 4 as Bowlsby calls it? Not necessarily.

Former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe says he thinks Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference can get the power to govern themselves without cutting off all ties to schools from the less powerful and wealthy FBS conferences.

And NCAA expert John Infante, who writes the ByLaw Blog at athleticscholarship.com, says the best solution for the schools in those conferences is not leaving Division I, but reshaping it in a way where some smaller schools choose to leave.

The lightning rod issue at the heart of this debate has been the proposed stipend to college athletes that would add about $2,000 to an athletic scholarship to cover the full cost of attendance. All the commissioners from the major conferences have pushed for it, but it could not be passed because smaller schools said they couldn't afford it.

So, a possible solution for the powerful, wealthy schools is to set up a level of football at which all the participating schools gave players stipends — and let the smaller schools play each other.

The programs that would be most affected by the big five isolating itself from the rest of college sports would be from the lesser leagues in college football's top tier: the Mountain West, the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East), Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the Mid-American Conference — aka the group of five.

Those schools still want to compete against the big five on the field, cash in on the monster pay days that usually come with playing those games and capitalize on the attention that comes when they occasionally win one.

The FBS conferences will share, though not equally, the $5.6 billion ESPN is set to pay over 12 years for broadcast rights to College Football Playoff. The big five conferences will take 75 percent of that money, but the 25 percent left over for the other five to split still represents a big raise from what they were making under the BCS.

Presumably, the power conferences would make even more breaking away. But it might not be that easy.

"What happens when these 70 schools break away and form Division 4? Might happen. I don't think it's going to happen," Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson told reporters at his league's football media day in Las Vegas.

MAC Commissioner John Steinbrecher said at media day in Detroit: "The question is, can we come to agreement on a set of rules that allows us to co-exist amicably? I tend to believe we can."

Beebe thinks so, too. He said the big five will ultimately be allowed to allocate their enormous resources toward providing more money for student-athletes and they will be able to increase academic standards the way they see fit.

"It's going to be done but the competition is going to go on on the court and field," said Beebe, who now heads a sports consulting firm called the Dan Beebe Group.

Infante said if the big five gets its way, it could lead to a culling of Division I, which currently includes 349 schools, with some of the 125 FBS schools dropping down to FCS, major college football's second tier.

Infante added the big five creating a new division of college athletics might not be so well-received by the lower-revenue members of their own leagues, schools such as Iowa State and Mississippi State that would become the new have-nots of major college football.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - C. Frias 2:10 PM
Colorado - J. De La Rosa
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 2:40 PM
Arizona - A. Chafin
Boston - C. Buchholz 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano
Toronto - J. Happ 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Washington - B. Treinen 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Miami - H. Alvarez 6:10 PM
NY Mets - D. Gee
NY Yankees - B. McCarthy 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb
Cincinnati - D. Corcino 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks
Chicago WSox - C. Sale 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Cleveland - C. Carrasco 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Detroit - D. Price 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Gibson
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
Seattle - J. Paxton 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Texas - D. Holland 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
Philadelphia - C. Hamels 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close