Autonomy, if you can keep it.

Welp, they’ve up and done it.

The NCAA Division I board of directors on Thursday voted to allow the 65 schools in the top five conferences to write many of their own rules. The autonomy measures — which the power conferences had all but demanded — will permit those leagues to decide on things such as cost-of-attendance stipends and insurance benefits for players, staff sizes, recruiting rules and mandatory hours spent on individual sports.

The Power Five (the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12) could begin submitting their own legislation by Oct. 1 and have it enacted at the January 2015 NCAA convention in Washington, D.C.

In a remarkably pessimistic piece, John Infante says it’s the beginning of the end of Division I.

Sooner rather than later, Division I will be gone. NCAA governance reforms have a short-shelf life and it would be shocking if this one sees the next decade before we hear agitation for the next logical step (a fourth NCAA division) or the next realistic one (separation of the power conferences from the NCAA). That day will be lamented as this end of Division I, but that will be like putting down an undead zombie. Today is the day that Division I as an idea, its soul, is well and truly dead.

I get his point.  When you think about it, what’s the only thing holding D-I together right now?  That’s right, March Madness revenue.  That’s a pretty weak glue in an era when chasing down every last dollar counts.  The big boys already don’t want to share football revenues with the little kids.  What do you think will happen when they come to the same realization about basketball?

That is, if they’re allowed to.  Infante makes another good point when he writes,

But that leaves Division I as simply a grouping of teams that play against each other. For some, that is enough. But college athletics is not simply a sports league, and it’s not a private business. It is a massive taxpayer-backed (when not explicitly taxpayer-funded) government program. The members of the NCAA are all either public universities, tax-exempt private universities, or for-profit universities heavily dependent on federal student-aid. A portion of every dollar that is guaranteed in a coaching contract or issued as debt by an athletic department might potentially be paid off by money that came from taxpayers. For that investment, we should demand more of our public institutions than simply playing games against each other.

Cue an old friend.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued a statement Thursday saying the NCAA’s new model may warrant Congressional review from the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he is a member.

“The NCAA should be responsible for promoting fair competition among its participating institutions and their student athletes,” Hatch said. “I am concerned that today’s actions could create an uneven playing field that may prevent some institutions from being able to compete fairly with other schools that have superior resources to pay for student athletes. I also worry about how this decision will affect a school’s Title IX requirements and whether this consolidation of power will restrict competition and warrant antitrust scrutiny.”

Hatch and other Congresscritters like Joe Barton were easy to mock during the Great BCS/Playoff debate because it was a foolish, mockable quest in which they were engaged.  This go ’round is likely to be a very different animal, mainly because I’m convinced that sooner or later the NCAA is going to make a hard go at Congress to get an antitrust exemption.  Not sharing involves a lot of heavy lifting.  These guys have no idea what asking for help from the likes of Orrin Hatch involves.



Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

14 responses to “Autonomy, if you can keep it.

  1. I’m crying crocodile tears for the NCAA, and you’re right March Madness $$$ is the only thing that has kept D-1 together for a long time now. If the Power 65-70 programs figure out they could have the same share of $$$ from basketball without the other 240 or so, they’ll tell the NCAA good-bye in a heartbeat.


  2. Will (the other one)

    Will they hire some former Fiesta Bowl officials as lobbyists?


  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    I just cain’t wait to watch the debates about college sports on C-Span, the winners will be laughing and joking, the losers hollering “Deal dammnit, deal”

    The only thing these folks seem to be able to agree on is when recess will start, and even that got some argument.

    Yessir, cain’t wait to see The Outlaw Jersey Whale leading the discussion.


  4. Mayor

    John Infante is FOS. The vote to allow the top 5 conferences to have rulemaking autonomy is the only thing that SAVED the NCAA. A “no” vote and the biggest 65 schools would have been out the NCAA’s door ASAP. That may still happen down the road any way BTW.


  5. Dog in Fla

    “In a remarkably pessimistic piece, John Infante says it’s the beginning of the end of Division I.”

    Lighten up, it’s not that terrible Infante


    • Infante seems to be opining that when these schools peel away from the NCAA that they’ll be missing something. Will someone please inform me of what the NCAA does that’s positive for it’s member institutions?


  6. Dog in Fla

    “These guys have no idea what asking for help from the likes of Orrin Hatch involves.”

    That’s right. Wait until they see how the Mormon Davy Crockett brings home Tubbs of pork for BYU and Utah State


  7. South FL Dawg

    Tax exemption gone ….yes please. I still don’t expect they will pay taxes but I’m hoping at least some of the “reserves” will instead be donated to the academic side. It’s going to be a fun game watching the funding go around between the school and its for profit athletic unit but let’s go.


  8. Nashville West

    Don’t think that it will necessarily end with Hatch. On the other side of the isle you have Dingy Harry Reid from the home of UNLV and Nevada Reno, both Mountain West Schools. In the other house is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from Bakersfield, CA, a big Fresno State town. The Power 5 may have over a hornets nest of anti-trust that will make Title IX seem like child’s play.


  9. 69Dawg

    Oh hell maybe congress can regulate college sports, they are so good at regulating the country. You think the NCAA is f’d up just wait until congress gets involved. By the way Non-profits still have to pay employment taxes and have their employees covered by worker’s comp. I’m not to sure the NCAA wants to go too far into the congressional black hole. The congress likes to split the baby and the price of an anti-trust exemption might just be the players get a union.


    • Chadwick

      Here is the rub, the NCAA might not WANT to go far, but give our congresscritters even a millimeter and they’ll take the Great Wall. Those pricks and prickettes have given us the current tax code and Obamacare…prolly without understand anything about them other than asking if the legislation will bring them votes. Anyone remember Corrinne Brown? I rest my case.


  10. AlphaDawg

    The NCAA is quickly becoming irrelevant. Does anyone here see a potential push by the NCAA for the antitrust exemption as a reason schools may not want to leave/breakaway the NCAA?