This space has often been a spot to review the college basketball season, but this year let’s look ahead.
The NCAA power structure is about to change. By the end of April it’s possible the five major football-playing conferences (Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC) will have new voting power that will allow them to create financial advantages over the other conferences.
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So, what would become of those other conferences, the ones that give the NCAA Tournament its full flavor?
Mercer, which knocked off Duke, was champion of the Atlantic Sun. Wichita State, perfect through 35 games, rolled through the Missouri Valley. Can those leagues stay in the game financially?
If Kentucky or Kansas offers full cost of attendance, putting dollars in players’ pockets on a monthly basis, and, say Stephen F. Austin cannot, does that create further imbalance in the tournament?
Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, chairman of the Division I board of directors, said no.
“The commitment of the higher-resource conferences seeking greater autonomy will create a different scholarship value, but it’s not different now,” Hatch said. “Do you think the athlete at Kentucky has advantages over the athlete at Southern Illinois? It’s very different now.”
Those that are just outside the football-playing powers have vowed to keep up.
“I can only speak for our institution, but we’re on board with doing what it takes,” said Creighton coach Greg McDermott, whose program plays in the Big East, which doesn’t have football. “If there’s to be competitive balance, I think that has to happen.”