SBD/November 3, 2011/Colleges

NCAA President Mark Emmert Comments On Realignment, Athlete Stipend

NCAA President Mark Emmert discussed the current climate of conference realignment on CBS Sports Network's "The Tim Brando Show" yesterday, saying, "Of course I do worry about it, and I am engaged in an informal fashion in it." Emmert said, "What I’ve been doing is talking frequently with mostly university presidents, our members, and having a chance to provide them with as much objective information as we can about what’s going on, and about what the facts are and rumors are. And then also to help remind people what this is all about. If an institution can improve its opportunities for its students to play in competition, if it can generate some more revenue that will be used to support athletic programs -- boy, that’s all good stuff and I’m supportive of it. If, on the other hand, we’re making decisions that are driven by rumor or innuendo or fear or we’re blowing up long-standing traditions for a five percent increase in a revenue stream or something, then that doesn’t make as much sense." He noted he has been trying to get people "to stay a little calmer, think about the facts, make sure they are thinking about what this really means for student-athletes when you’ve got to fly them halfway across the country and how that’s really going to work out in the lives of young people on a day-to-day basis.” Emmert said, “When you’re an university president or an AD, and you’ve got your fan base yelling or screaming for one thing, and the siren song of money in the other ear ... you’ve got fear that when the music stops you may be left without a seat at the, mostly, the BCS table." Emmert did say he is "not one of those who thinks this is leading to four mega conferences." Emmert: "I don’t think that makes organizational sense or even economic sense.”

SPENDING MONEY: Emmert also discussed the new $2,000 stipend for student-athletes that was recently approved by the NCAA. When asked if he was worried about the measure creating a divide between “the have’s and the have-nots,” Emmert said, "I’m really not, and the reason is that the divide already is so much greater than most people realize. ... So you add another $2,000 in that mix and it really doesn’t create a competitive advantage or disadvantage at all. The student that is trying to decide where he -- let’s say it’s a football player -- where he’s going to play football, they’re not going to make that choice between going to a school that is going to let him start as a quarterback versus someone who is not, over a $2,000 stipend. ... I just don’t see it playing into that decision process at all” (“The Tim Brando Show,” CBS Sports Network, 11/2).

TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: The current wave of realignment was discussed on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" yesterday, including the Big East trying to force West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to stay in the conference until the '14-15 season. ESPN's Andy Katz said the “thing that’s lost here is that the Big East is now going to turn around and basically poach” Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference schools "for their survival.” The moves trickle "all the way down to lower levels that these schools and conferences will do to one another.” ESPN’s Dan Hawkins, who was the football coach at Boise State from '01-05, said Boise “could use the revenue” by joining the Big East “if it was right." Hawkins: "The payout that they have to pay to the Mountain West could be tremendous if they don’t get that guarantee in the Big East. The money has to be right, not just for football but for the entire athletic department” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 11/2).
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