The NCAA introduced a proposal on Tuesday that would alter college athletics as we know it, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Ross Dellenger.
The proposal would create a new subdivision within Division 1 athletics, which would be different from the current Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The proposal would also allow schools to pay athletes through a trust fund with this proposal seen as a way to loosen the grip of the current NIL structure.
The newest subdivision would remain within the NCAA and its members would be eligible for current Division 1 tournaments. It will be up to each individual school to opt into this model provided they meet the minimum requirements. Non-football schools can participate in this new subdivision as well. Schools that opt out of this new subdivision will still be able to negotiate NIL deals if they so choose.
Per the report, the entry into this subdivision would be a minimum of $30,000 per year per athlete ($120,000 for a single athlete over four years) for at least half of a school’s athletes but there would be no cap on how much a school can put into the fund. In addition, 50% of the funds must be allocated to female athletes to ensure compliance with Title IX. The minimum is expected to be close to $6 million a year but is expected to be higher. That $6 million figure is similar to the NCAA’s recent FCS-to-FBS reclassification requirements change in October.
If the goal wasn’t already obvious before, it sure is now. The NCAA – which is controlled by the schools – wants to let the highest-resourced schools be on their own. It would be very similar to the European Super League proposal in soccer. They would have the autonomy to create some of their own rules without having to consider the needs of smaller Division 1 programs.
If this sounds familiar in college football, it happened once before when Division 1 split into 1-A and 1-AA in 1978. The reason for the split? Resource differences. Time is a flat circle even when it comes to realignment but this was always the likely destination following the 1984 Supreme Court decision that permitted conferences to negotiate its own media rights.
We’ll start with a caveat that this is only a proposal and many aspects of this can and will change by the time a model is finalized and implemented. We’ll list some thoughts below via bullet points and provide links to Dellenger’s follow-up thread in which he discusses some of these issues.
- The burning question: what will the name of the new subdivision be? Let’s go with the Premier Subdivision.
- It wouldn’t be surprising to see football discontinued at some schools as a way to participate in the new Premier subdivision. Particularly, the Big East is one of the conferences that comes to mind. Schools like Butler, Connecticut, Georgetown, and Villanova currently do not reside in a Power 4 conference in football. Butler, Georgetown, and Villanova play at the FCS level and it wouldn’t be surprising if they ditched football to stay at the highest level especially if it would be a lot cheaper for them overall to do so and be part of the Premier Subdivision.
- One of the first thoughts is that female athletes are likely to see increased benefits in this model as most female athletes do not make much in the current NIL system… at least for the women’s teams that end up in the Premier Subdivision. This aspect will undoubtedly require much more detail to ensure Title IX compliance given that the NCAA is seeking Congressional approval for this model.
- A proposal like this will impact certain sports programs negatively and will almost surely result in entire programs being cut. The extent of those cuts won’t be fully known until all the details of the proposal are hammered out but this blog is anticipating a lot of changes in the near future. This may even include some women’s sports that were talked about in the previous point.
- The $6 million amount doesn’t seem like a lot but to compete at the highest level, it wouldn’t be surprising to see that multiplied by 10 or 15 to be in the ballpark of this league with football included. Without football, that factor is lower but will still be considerable given the large revenues brought in by football that would help support other sports.
- Obligatory Not a Lawyer: It’s unclear if the current change will suffice for the NCAA to avoid legal issues. According to an actual lawyer, this will not absolve the NCAA from the ongoing House mess nor is it currently enough to appease Congress. However, Michael McCann does point out that this proposal stands a better chance in regard to antitrust. The only certain thing about this proposal from a legal standpoint is that billable hours are set to remain undefeated.
- There’s a lot of uncertainty to this model but how it impacts the FCS is one of the more intriguing parts. Nothing is stopping non-FBS teams from making the jump but the question is will any school try it? Will the new model result in some teams moving to the FBS but not the Premier subdivision? Will there be movement out of the FCS to Division 2, Division 3, or even the NAIA?
- While the Premier Subdivision will remain part of the NCAA, the topic of scheduling hasn’t been brought up. This is probably because we are reading too much into this but it wouldn’t be implausible to think that scheduling rule changes might occur.
Those are only some of the thoughts we have on the proposal and there will be more as additional details are reported. We often use a cliche about realignment when we end an article and the proposal above is enough to rehash an old one. The realignment wheel never stops and it’s not slowing down any time soon after today.
Photo courtesy of the NCAA