While I am from Ohio, I am not a big Ohio State fan. I often get into discussions about the Big Ten and their successes/downfalls. Most of the time, these discussions are with fans of the SEC (primarily UK). As most know, Ohio State received its punishment from the NCAA today.
The NCAA is a huge business. Their main money maker is the NCAA DI men’s basketball tournament — “March Madness.” Most decisions revolve around that. Since the DI-A (FBS) football championship postseason is now operated by the BCS, the NCAA doesn’t make their money from football.
The president of the NCAA is Mark Emmert. He has stated, numerous times, there will be reform within the NCAA. In a recent NCAA publication, the President’s column basically stated that while all the NCAA divisions need reformed, Division I will be receiving the most immediate attention. This is obvious, it’s the biggest money maker. My question, when is this “reform” going to happen? When is SOMETHING going to be done? There have been very few rules that have been erased. There have been very few changes with anything!
This is what the the NCAA is trying to do. Oh, the other thing they’re trying to do? Increase the APR score (basically the graduation rate score over 4-years, which schools are held to) from 925 to 930. What does this mean exactly? It means that programs have to graduate 50% of their student-athletes now! Unbelievable! They believe that “a 50 percent graduation rate is a reasonable goal for all teams.” Oh, that is grand.
One thing the NCAA can’t really do (but in my opinion, should be able to do), is help schools with their conference alignments (and realignments). In a time where the NCAA makes rules, deals, and moves based on financial motives, this is the main way that budgets can be affected. I believe this conference realignment really started when “The U” and Virginia Tech moved out of the Big East to the ACC. Around that same time, Conference USA also had some moves out (Louisville to the Big East). In the last couple of years, this is being going rampant. The Big 12 had almost completely eroded away. The Big East did, essentially, until they had 5 schools join this past week. The Big 10 expanded. The SEC expanded. As these moves are being made, schools are leaving DI and going DII or DIII — or vice versa.
A big move in this region is Northern Kentucky University moving from DII to DI. This school has had success in multiple sports — won a national championship in men’s soccer and a couple in women’s basketball. With the move to DI, they face a 4-year period where they are restricted from playing in the postseason. When making a move into a new division, schools are forced to find a conference/league to play in. There are several conferences that NKU could fit into nicely, most notably, the MAC or Horizon League, and possibly the A-10. They are not joining any…why? None of the conferences want to expand. So, NKU will be joining the Atlantic Sun (another possibility was the Summit League).
The move to the A-Sun will require NKU to have an average travel of 580 miles (one-way) and a 9.3 hour travel time. The athletic department has a budget of $4.2 million — which will be doubling with their move to DI. But the NKU administrators believe they can recover that through, “additional publicity, ticket sales, sponsorships and student enrollment.”
Lousy. These schools in the greater-Cincinnati area, Indiana, and Kentucky are more than adequate to fit NKU’s needs. This will mean that in the greater-Cincinnati area, there are 6 Division I schools: NKU, Cincinnati, Xavier, Miami (OH), Dayton, and Wright State. Who else is available that is not so far away? Morehead State. Bowling Green State. Toledo. Ohio University. Youngstown State. Indiana State. Murray State. Akron. And the list goes on. I believe all the schools I listed are within a 5-6 hour bus ride (at least a lot closer than A-Sun opponent Florida Gulf Coast University or Summit League opponent Southern Utah); heck, even the Horizon League’s farthest opponents in Wisconsin-Green Bay or Wisconsin-Milwaukee have shorter trips than what the A-Sun offers.
I don’t think anything needs to be said about the Big East having Boise State and San Diego State (football only members). The other three added are Houston, SMU, and Central Florida…all were added in all sports. Meanwhile, there sits Notre Dame and its non-football conference member program — while also being in the Big East in multiple sports.
The big conferences (well, the important ones) of the Big 10, SEC, Pac-12, ACC, and even the Big 12 have really done halfway decent in having “regionalized” members. The Big 10 stretches pretty far from Penn State to Nebraska, but the member institutions are all very similar in academics and athletics. The Pac-12 is very similar, it’s a trip from USC to University of Washington or Washington State. So, they can at least be applauded for their efforts.
As the NCAA continues to sit on its hands…college athletics will continue to fall into a very controversial subject. How can they provide an educational atmosphere being higher education institutions while also promoting amateur athletics. There are many schools, programs, teams, coaches, players, administrators, and fans that are sitting around waiting for something to be done to “clean up” and “change” college athletics…it seems that the NCAA officials are too busy enjoying their paychecks. Schools will continue breaking these rules and regulations because they are too difficult to follow and comprehend. Punishments will continue to be handed out. Boosters and schools will come under fire because they “fail to manage” a certain program or athlete.
Surely these NCAA officials realize that something can be done. The archaic system needs to go. Time for something else to happen. New blood is needed. Instead of a reform…I think we need a complete overhaul.