SBD/April 29, 2014/Colleges

Power Conference Autonomy In NCAA Could Come At Big Cost For Some Schools

Pollard said NCAA reorganization would cost ISU $750,000 per year
Iowa State Univ. AD Jamie Pollard "likes the idea of segregating the largest and most powerful NCAA schools, which the organization endorsed last week, but it will come at a price," according to Randy Peterson of the DES MOINES REGISTER. Pollard yesterday said, "It would be a big outlay of expenditures for us -- probably close to $750,000 (a year). And we're self-funded, so we'd have to pass that on or cut in other areas." The proposal faces an August vote, and includes allowing each school to "give scholarship athletes enough money each year to cover what is called the 'cost of attendance.'" The total payout "varies from school to school." Pollard said, "My guess is that there will be some standardization in how you calculate the number, but the number will be different for every school" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 4/29). Univ. of Texas-San Antonio AD Lynn Hickey said that she "understands the needs of the 'big five' in an age when pressure is mounting to give more to the athletes." But at the same time, Hickey said that she "doesn't want to see the line 'drawn in the sand so drastically' that UTSA and the rest of Conference USA are 'perceived in a completely different way.'” Hickey said whatever new NCAA legislation is enacted, C-USA members will need to respond with "good judgments." Hickey: “We're going to have to make decisions based financially on what we can legitimately handle so that we're not running a bad business" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 4/29). In Milwaukee, Jeff Potrykus notes Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez was "neither disappointed nor surprised" when he learned of the NCAA's reorganization plan. Alvarez said, "Whatever we can do for the kids I'm in favor of. Whatever we can do within the rules, I am in favor of" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 4/29).

TAKING CONTROL: In Providence, Kevin McNamara noted after "signing TV deals worth billions (mainly for football games), the 65-school cartel will now mold the future of college sports the way they see fit." Rhode Island AD Thorr Bjorn said, "This is a big deal. Much more communication needs to take place with the power conferences to see what their priorities are. Everyone is a bit leery right now." McNamara noted the five power conferences will "split the majority" of a $650M-a-year payout that TV is "forking over" for the new CFP. The NCAA’s men’s basketball TV contract pays out $770M a year, but that money is "distributed to all schools." The apparent "losers in the new world may well be those schools that still want to play football" in the FBS but "lack the funds to match dollars." This is a "direct challenge to many schools" in the AAC and a potential "death knell to schools" in the MAC, such as Akron and Eastern Michigan. At schools that "do not play big-time football, the challenges are less dire but could quickly become complex." Providence College does not have a football team, but AD Bob Driscoll and the "rest of his Big East brethren insist they are ready to pay up to compete in men's basketball." Driscoll said, "We consider ourselves a power conference, and we expect to keep pace. We don't have the resources to go across the board like some of those other schools, but we will keep pace in sports where we are trying to win the national championship" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 4/27). In Hartford, Paul Doyle wrote in the short term, D-I administrators will "benefit from more streamlined NCAA rules." UConn AD Warde Manuel, who has served on NCAA rules committees, is a "proponent of simplifying the rules and allowing schools to make common sense decisions." Manuel said, "I think it gives us the freedom to make decisions on our campus about how we want to move forward and how we want to deal with issues related to student-athlete welfare, whether it's stipends or food or travel or whatever it is" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/27).
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