SBD/July 29, 2013/Colleges

Pac-12's Larry Scott Calls For NCAA Structure Reform, Does Not See Breakaway

Scott believes major conference realignment has come to the end of a cycle
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott last Thursday said NCAA reform has "been a topic of conversation across most divisions," and noted all 31 conference commissioners "met in early June ... and everyone is talking about NCAA governance and the reform movement under Mark (Emmert) -- what people like about it and what people don't like about it," according to Ted Miller of ESPN.com. Scott said, "I think it's fair to say there is a collective sense that everyone would like to see a different governance structure that was not exclusively presidents, who are not involved in athletic day-to-day, making the final decisions on things. People would like to see more flexibility for the high resource schools." Scott said of a potential breakaway from the NCAA by the SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten, "I don't think there's any of us approaching this from the perspective of breaking away. I think people are focused on what the end result is that they think we will need. ... I believe from evolution that can still happen as part of the NCAA. Part of the big tent. I don't think it's that complicated." Scott was asked if he thought conference expansion was done for now and said, "I do. I think we've run a cycle. All the major conferences have long-term TV deals. All but the SEC have locked up a grant of rights. That means any school that would leave a conference would leave their TV rights behind. That takes away all the financial motivation to leave a conference. That takes away the incentive for a conference to want to acquire a new team. You might see some at the lower levels but I think amongst the big five, we've come to the end of a cycle" (ESPN.com, 7/26).

ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL: In Denver, John Henderson noted Scott is "fully behind the cost-of-attendance stipend most of the smaller schools can't afford." A figure of "$2,000 per scholarship athlete for a school year has been mentioned." Scott said, "It's time to acknowledge that one size does not fit all and that we need more flexibility in the system. We must design a structure that allows for appropriate differences based on priorities and resources throughout the NCAA" (DENVER POST, 7/27). The DENVER POST's Henderson noted while Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said that 10 of his 12 schools are "in favor of cost of attendance, the concept is a slippery slope." Stanford Univ. LB Shayne Skov "hinted that players could abuse it." Skov said, "If the money is allocated and used for the right purposes, it's beneficial. But I think there needs to be potential regulation on how. Obviously, if that money is given to them, it's their right to spend it. But for what use and purpose is that money allocated?" (DENVER POST, 7/28).

MAJOR MAKEOVER? In Columbus, Bob Hunter wrote the NCAA "needs the major conferences ... more than those leagues need the NCAA." Hunter: "That helps explain why the major conferences finally decided to make it clear that it’s time for change. Or else." Another football division "at the top is a no-brainer and much better than a breakaway from the NCAA." Hunter: "No one wants to destroy the basketball model; the events make lots of money, are enormously popular and are a place where mid-major schools can compete with the big boys." Emmert "obviously wants to keep the five power leagues within the organization" and will do "whatever it takes." The current structure, which "assumes that a school with a $5 million athletic budget has the same problems and goals as one with a $150 million budget, makes no sense." Although the "big boys look a little like bullies, what they propose is the recognition of reality" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 7/28).

THE ONCOMING STORM: In DC, John Feinstein wrote if Emmert and his "minions in Indianapolis do not understand they are about to be under siege from the most powerful leagues and schools in college sports, then someone needs to hit them all over the head to get their attention." Feinstein: "Saber-rattling is almost always followed by a weapon being pointed at an opponent’s heart." For the conference commissioners to "bemoan the lack of leadership coming out of Indianapolis is both accurate and hypocritical." College athletics "doesn’t need the 'Division 4' [Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby] suggested during his news conference at the Big 12 media days" last week. Instead, it "needs a complete makeover, whether from within the NCAA or through a new organization." As "incompetent as Emmert is, he is not the problem; he’s merely a symptom." He may be a "lousy fireman, but no fireman is terribly effective if there’s no water" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/27).
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