As conference realignment appears to be moving forward at break-neck speed, it would only seem natural that the president of the NCAA — an establishment not generally known for swift action — would have a problem with such seismic shifts in college athletics.
Speaking with the USA Today, Mark Emmert cautioned conferences and institutions leaning toward new allegiances that their plans could ultimately hurt the student-athlete.
“This is not about playing Monopoly and moving pieces around on the board,” Emmert said. “These are real institutions with real students and real coaches and real programs, and it’s much, much more complex than playing a simple game.
“If conferences wind up [shifting], they’re going to have to sit and work through what that really means for a volleyball team, to have to travel 1,500 miles in the middle of the week,” Emmert added. “Moving young men and women around in the middle of the week or over extended weekends, over those kinds of distances, is pretty hard to square with support for the academic success of students.
“At the same time, it brings enormous cost. Is it going to actually net out more money by the time you have to charter planes to move students all over the place? The logic of some of that needs to be taken into consideration.”
Oh, the volleyball players! The humanity!
I mean, really, won’t someone think of the children?
But, since we’re on the topic of logic…
When Syracuse moves to the ACC, they’ll have to travel nearly 1,500 miles to play Miami in a sporting event. Awful, right? Not so much when you consider the Orange did the same thing while the Hurricanes were still a member of the Big East. As it stands right now, SU still has to travel roughly 1,200 miles to Tampa, Florida, to play the University of South Florida.
What if the Pac-12 adds Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State? Athletes at UCLA and USC still travel 1,100 miles to go play in Seattle, Washington. What’s another 200 or so miles tacked on to go to Austin, Texas?
And, please, don’t even get us started on Conference USA.
Look, we’re not thrilled about this conference realignment drama, either. If anything, it’s really taken away from the enjoyment of the game, but the fact of the matter is that a change on some level appears imminent. College football is a business, and every institution is acting in its own self-interest.
There is no structure in place by the NCAA to monitor or prevent a shift, either, and Emmert has been persistent that no college equivalent of a pro commissioner is necessary.
“When it comes to conference affiliations, that’s always been — and I suspect will always remain — decisions that are going to be made by university presidents,” Emmert said.
If that’s the avenue the NCAA wants to maintain, that’s all well and good, but it completely eliminates any concern the NCAA might voice.