Be careful what you threaten for.

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?


Filed under The NCAA

9 responses to “Be careful what you threaten for.

  1. James

    “why haven’t they done so already?”

    To speculate — because being a part of the current NCAA helps their amateurism case and the perception of what they’re arguing. This way they get to pretend like every school under the NCAA are really from the same cloth, and that some are just in unique situations. If you all of the sudden demand to be different play by different rules, you open the door for a pretty compelling case that your student-athletes are very different and should governed by different rules as well.


    • AusDawg85

      Plus the cost of infrastructure and overhead for the NCAA is shared by many, but would be borne solely by the schools in a new organization. Why own when you can rent?


    • Mine was a rhetorical question, so you make my point. If there are credible reasons to stay, how seriously should they take Slive’s threat?


      • Exactly – if the networks and the money will follow, $live, go ahead and take down the NCAA. It sounds to me like they want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to keep the money and take control while still having the NCAA put on championships, share the $$$ of March Madness, and provide a structure to legitimize rent-a-wins.


  2. Agree, why even broach the subject if you do not intend to pursue it? High stakes, but they would be anyway and as posted, what could the NCAA do to stop the Majors from doing their own thing? They would be committing suicide if they didn’t do EVERYTHING they could to keep them in the fold.


  3. Macallanlover

    Honestly, why should we really care about preserving the NCAA? It is illogical for the Power 5 to be tied so directly with the remainder of schools; their interests/circumstances are incompatible and make for a bad marriage. And Lord knows the NCAA itself has not exactly provided stellar leadership or vision.

    Now I don’t think folks like Slive, or the current academic presidents have proven they are all that talented either but it is hard to have such a popular product and screw it up much worse than this group has over the past few decades. They are teetering on the brink of collapse while enjoying an all-time high in both dollars and exposure. How could a change be any worse than what we are witnessing? It may be too late to save the Golden Goose anyway.


    • Gaskilldawg

      Lots of reasons, including the other sports colleges offer to their students. Why do you g. a. s. about those. Try the risk of losing tax exempt status. The money machines of the SEC and Big Ten and Pac12 and Big 12 and ACC love being tax exempt so that what would be tax money can go into coaches’ and Administrators’ salaries. Now what if those schools harm all other sports in pursuit of football big money. What is the justification for tax exempt status. I don’t doubt you have a ready answer but Slive isn’t worried about convincing you. He is worried about convincing the IRS.

      That is just one consideration.

      Basketball is another. The millions and millions and millions produced by the D-1 tournament would be at risk. There would not be enough teams in the division or association to replicate the tournament field if every team was in the tournament. The networks pay big for the entire inventory of games and they aren’t going to pay the same for fewer games.


      • Macallanlover

        I understand all that, just don’t care. Suits me if schools pay taxes on their revenues and reduce coaches salaries by 40%. You are just rolling the financial clock back 5-6 years. I would rather see that than see the sport torn apart trying to please every little program and be led by visionless and spineless nerds.