The “Power 5” conferences in college football will now have more of a say than ever before. The ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12 and Pac-12 were almost unanimously voted by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors to dictate rules with autonomy. This is expected to bring changes with recruiting rules, insurance benefits and staff directions.
The most important could be the potential of a stipend given to athletes between $2,000 and $5,000, in addition to the benefits currently offered by universities.
The 64 schools that make up the major conferences along with Notre Dame will present an agenda next year that could bring other changes. There could be mandatory four-year scholarships for players, along with less regulations for player involvement with agents and paid career opportunities outside of school requirements.
When asked about the potential rule changes, NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “I think you’ll see those issue be acted on very aggressively, right away.”
College sports will be self-governed by the richest and most elite schools, creating a two-tier system among in Division I competition. An 80-member voting panel, including 15 current players, will oversee the policies implemented by the power conferences. Officials from schools will represent the structured system that will be put in place.
As for the 75 schools in leagues outside of the major conferences, they have the option to vote against the ruling in the next 60 days, sending the decision back to the Board of Directors to be reconsidered. It’s not likely this will happen due to the threat of the major conference schools breaking away to form a division of their own.
There is a certain risk involved with the different resources that can be offered by major school, causing the potential for a strong conflict in the future. The smaller schools can’t afford the price of benefits that are given to players. There’s one head coach from a major conference that disagrees with the Board of Directors.
Bill Snyder said, “It’s changed. I mean, college athletics, football in particular, has changed dramatically over the years. I think we’ve sold out. We’re all about dollars and cents. The concept of college football no longer has any bearing on the quality of the person, the quality of students. Universities are selling themselves out.”
Major conference schools now have the power to buy the services of athletes at a greater price. Some rules are not subject to change, such as postseason requirements, transfer policies, signing day and on-field game rules. The autonomy will have good benefits for the development of Division I college football, and adapting to the changes that are forthcoming will be key for the smaller conferences involved.