John Infante says Mike Slive’s Division IV threat, if taken at face value, is an idle one.
What Slive is proposing is a sort of rules-only subdivision. The Division IV schools would have their own manual, own set of governance committees, and own dedicated NCAA staff members (or use conference staff for functions like committee support, waivers, and interpretations). But they would compete against Division I schools and share selection committees, automatic bids, and presumably a similar share of the revenue with their old divisional mates.
To rephrase Slive’s Division IV threat, if the rest of Division I does not grant the power conferences autonomy on a limited set of governance issues, they will explore getting autonomy on all governance issues. What Slive is proposing is not a new NCAA division, at least not one that looks or functions anything like the three existing divisions. All Slive’s Division IV accomplishes is to allow the power conferences to make all their own rules.
But to get that, Slive would have to take it through the same voters at the NCAA who shot the last autonomy proposal down. What makes this deal more attractive? Well, that would be the threat behind the threat.
But if the power conferences proposed a real Division IV, one which has its own tournaments, that becomes an association-wide issue. The threat then would then be that the power conferences would leave the NCAA entirely. Creation of a new division would be voted on by the entire NCAA membership. Faced with relegation to an NAIA-like existence, Divisions II and III would likely overwhelm the objections from the rest of Division I to allow the power conferences what they want. Especially if Division IV membership includes more than just the power conferences.
I can see the logic behind John’s argument, but there’s one thing that brings me up short. If the power conferences are truly willing to create “a real Division IV” or leave the NCAA altogether, why haven’t they done so already? It’s not like anyone could stop them. So if they take their threat to the next level, will they be believed by the rest of the NCAA membership?