If you read this site often you know that we believe the top 70-80 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision will eventually create their own “super division” of college athletics. The biggest schools in the biggest conferences are already pushing for the right to provide full-cost-of-tuition scholarships to their athletes. The commissioners of the biggest, wealthiest conferences are behind the idea. Embattled NCAA president Mark Emmert is as well.
But according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the divide between those who want to increase student stipends and those who don’t — or those who can’t afford to — is widening:
“In some ways, the issue has become a referendum on Mr. Emmert, whose attempts to get things done quickly have alienated certain factions.
‘There are some people who will oppose anything he supports, and that’s unfair,’ says Sidney A. McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University. As head of the NCAA Student-Athlete Well-Being Working Group, Mr. McPhee has become chief arbiter of the stipend debate.
The issue has driven a wedge through an already divided Division I. Some institutions, including those that don’t compete in football at the highest levels, say they simply don’t have the revenue to offset the added costs. Others worry that making additional payments to players—no matter how small, and for whatever reason—threatens the amateur model.
Such opposition is one reason some of the wealthier programs are pushing for a further subdivision of the NCAA’s top level. If they can’t get their way on issues like this one, some observers say, they’ll just take their ball and go play somewhere else.
The climate has frustrated Mr. McPhee, who believes that even the less-wealthy programs have an obligation to make a priority of players and their unmet financial needs. ‘If you want to compete [in Division I],’ he says, ‘you’ve got to step up.’
It’s also a matter of fairness, he says. Institutions increase aid packages for other students all the time, so why shouldn’t they do it for athletes too?”
There are only three questions remaining, in our view. First, when will the new “super division” be created? Second, will athletes from all sports be paid (if not, expect litigation). Third, if all sports are included, are we looking at a split inside the FBS or an overall split among Division I schools in every sport?
While the 70-80 largest, richest football schools would obviously be ready to start their own new branch of the NCAA, would their be some big basketball schools — St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, for example — that are prepared to pay athletes as well? One would imagine so.
Rest assured, a split is coming and a new “super division” will be formed. It’s just a matter now of when it will be formed and who will be a part of it.