NCAA football hasn’t had an level playing field in decades (if ever), but has always operated in an idealist manner as if one exists.
That won’t be the case for much longer. USA Today’s George Schroeder reports from the NCAA’s annual convention in San Diego that the five power conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — will soon be able to operate without having to answer to lower-revenue conferences and schools.
On a separate but parallel track, schools in the power conferences chafed at the constraints placed upon them by schools with fewer resources. In recent years, proposals such as stipends (or enhanced scholarships designed to cover full cost of attendance), favored by the 65 schools in the five wealthiest conferences, were voted down by the larger Division I membership of more than 350 schools.
Thanks to the SEC’s new TV deal and the College Football Playoff, the revenue gap between the power conferences, non-power conferences and FCS level will only continue to grow. There’s plenty of good info in Schroeder’s story (again, read here), like how the power conferences won’t split away and form a new division — surprisingly enough due to a desire to not harm the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
For schools in the non-power conferences — your NIUs, UCFs, Fresno States — there still will be a seat at the table. But in the business of college football, there’s not much they’ll be able to do to keep up Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and the like.