The world of college athletics has always been tilted, perhaps rightfully so, towards the money making schools of the power five conferences. Yesterday though, an NCAA vote that gives those conferences the ability to write their own rules tilted things drastically more in their direction.
In short, the top conferences in college athletics, including the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC will have the ability to approve rules that dictate such things as player stipends, mandatory hours spent on certain sports, recruiting regulations, signing regulations, transfer policies, and even the rules of on field play.
Here's a little about what this means for college athletics:
First, it keeps Division I athletics, as we know it, in tact at least for the time being. We've all heard the rumblings of the power conferences wanting to take their ball and go home. That won't be happening, for now, giving the little guys like Conference USA a seat at the adult's table.
Second, it keeps uniformity throughout college athletics in that all power schools will vote to approve the same rules, and will all follow those same rules. Leagues outside the power five will also have the ability to vote to conform to the new rules.
Third, it creates an even larger gap between schools inside the power five and those outside. The fact of the matter is that while most schools inside the power five will be able to pay their players a stipend, most schools outside likely will not.
There's no question that a school like UTEP already would have trouble recruiting head to head against a school like the University of Texas, for obvious reasons, but should the Longhorns be able to offer their recruits an annual stipend, how much harder would that make it?
This is sure to create a competitive imbalance between schools with larger budgets and those with smaller ones, and it forces smaller leagues to play by the rules that the bigger leagues dictate.
Now, of course, this isn't all bad for the little guy. The whole idea behind this is to be able give the student athlete more benefits. That isn't just for those who compete in larger conferences, but all student athletes across the nation.
Its hard to say just how exactly things will play out, but its hard to imagine them playing out in any sort of favor of those outside the power five.
Those who do fall outside the power leagues still have the opportunity to overrule the vote for autonomy, and would need 75 institutions to vote against it in order to override it. However, initial reports state it is highly unlikely that will happen.
Should autonomy fail, the power five leagues could still split off to create their own division, completely leaving the rest behind. Considering that, its likely that this new system will be given its fair shot, at least for the foreseeable future.
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