The talk among NCAA circles for a while has been the possibility of the larger conferences, or the Big Five–ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC–breaking ranks and seeking autonomy. While they may not break apart from the NCAA altogether, they would govern themselves, given the fact that they draw the most money out of all the other conferences nationally–a noticeable difference between the rich and the poor (i.e. the SEC and, for example, the MEAC).
The latest propositions are a separate division featuring the Big Five and a few other conferences (a la FBS), a theoretical “Division IV” so to speak; or a collection of federations within the current system. Conference USA might be involved as well. Writes SI.com’s Andy Staples:
At issue is Division IV, or, probably more realistically, a new subdivision within Division I containing the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and possibly the American Athletic Conference and Conference USA. Currently, Division I is subdivided into the FBS and FCS in football. Let’s call the proposed new subdivision the F$S. (Big 12 commissioner Bob) Bowlsby also suggested the creation of federations within the NCAA to make unique rules to govern each individual sport. This is intriguing but complex. The simpler solution is a new subdivision for football, which is where the greatest differences between haves and have-nots exist.
This would equal a lesser financial divide between the power conferences and C-USA, and would open the door to the controversial stipends being proposed by some Big Five coaches, namely Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, for student-athletes:
In the F$S, if leagues wanted to toss an extra $2,000-$4,000 into the athletic scholarship package to account for the full cost of attendance, they could. They can all afford it, after all. The money leagues have been trying to do this for two years, but they’ve been blocked by the have-nots, who correctly realize this would create an even greater recruiting advantage for the money schools.
Of course, the competitive balance (at least for a while) would still be significantly in the favor of schools in conferences like the SEC, due to its name equity and overall tradition. There’s a lot more to the article, including Big Five schools possibly playing only each other (which would shut out smaller programs from payday games against much superior programs) as well as the effect on basketball (make no mistake, this is a football move nonetheless) so take a look and read for yourself. Also, weigh in using the comment section below.