The bigger budget conferences aren’t looking to break away from the NCAA when its convention starts today in San Diego, but they want greater voting autonomy.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
“It’s never been about drawing bright lines,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “It’s about trying to fashion a structure that works best for our programs.”
Those programs belong in the five major conferences: Big 12, Southeastern, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast, and their greatest common denominator is the value of their games to TV networks. They own contracts that stretch into the 2020s and are worth billions of dollars.
The conferences, whose 65 member schools include Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State, want to make some decisions that are in their best interest, and not be part of a voting bloc that includes Division I programs with fewer resources.
“There are different problems for a Big 12, a Big Ten, an SEC school and others, than with everybody else,” Bowlsby said. “We want to be able to think about the issues that relate more generally to our schools.”
Bowlsby said no vote to change the structure would be taken at the convention. But the major conferences are expected to have new voting power by the start of the 2014 football season.
In the past, the major conferences thought some of their proposals haven’t passed because smaller-budget schools feared losing more ground.
Take stipends for athletes. Schools from conferences flush with TV money can more easily afford a stipend or full cost of attendance.
Other issues that the larger schools may be interested in: Athletes benefiting from their likenesses and gaining more access to agents.
Those ideas have run counter to general NCAA philosophy since before the organization moved its national office to Kansas City, where it remained for nearly a half-decade until leaving for Indianapolis in 1999.
But the value of major college athletes has soared, as have the salaries of coaches and athletic administrators. Facilities are improving, and major colleges want more voting power when it comes to benefits for athletes.