The nation’s universities with the largest athletic budgets are expected to gain more governing freedom with an NCAA vote on Thursday.
The power five conferences —Big 12, Southeastern, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference — want the ability to make changes such as granting full cost of attendance and long-term medical insurance security.
That takes money, and the high profile conferences want to pay it because they generate the lion’s share of college sports revenue mostly through billion-dollar television contracts.
And they want a governance structure that will allow them to make such decisions without smaller budget schools voting them down. There some 350 schools in Division 1, and about 125 that play Division I football. The power five conferences, which also include Notre Dame, number 65.
“I think we have more commonalities than differences,” Kansas State athletic director John Currie said.
Currie was part of a panel discussion among Big 12 and college leaders and media members in New York City on Wednesday. So was Donna Lopiano, who spent 17 years as the athletic director for women’s sports at Texas and strongly disagreed that a separation should happen.
“I’m aghast at the autonomy movement of the big five,” Lopiano said. “This is what the big five doesn’t get. You’re non-profit. Sharing the largess is the heart of college sports.”
The concern among the lower profile schools and conferences is a larger gulf between the halves and have-nots.
There has always been a difference in the budgets and public interest in the athletics of Texas and Texas-El Paso. But the Longhorns and Miners played by the same rules that govern benefits to athletes.
With a vote on Wednesday, that could begin to change.