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How The NCAA Can Take Action To Stem Tide Of Megaconferences

June 7, 2010

(Required reading, before diving into this post, to get you up to speed on what’s spurred more expansion talk.)

It looks like the PAC-10 has decided to push the “DEFCON 2” button on the Expansion Nuke launcher.

They want to get to 16 members before they begin negotiating their new television deal, which is set to renew for the 2012-2013 season. And they’ve set the Big 12—more specifically, Texas—squarely in their sights.

If the PAC-10 explodes in size to the PAC-16, robbing the Big 12 of six teams, they will set off a chain reaction that will radically alter the college sports landscape and likely destroy the ACC as we currently know it.

There’s no real need for me to rehash all the possible scenarios…you’ve probably heard them all by now. Steven’s got a pretty thorough discussion on the matter here.

My concern is that all of this expansion talk seems primarily motivated by a tiny, arbitrary rule set forth by the NCAA: All conferences that wish to hold a football conference championship game must have 12 members. This rule, of course, currently precludes the PAC-10 and Big 10 from hosting a conference championship game (and the money it generates). This rule was the impetus behind the ACC’s expansion earlier this century.

If the NCAA TRULY wanted to do what was in the best interest of their student athletes, i.e. limiting the amount of time spent out of class and the amount of cross-country travel, they should step forth and publicly abolish this rule. NOW. Allow the PAC-10 and the Big 10 to host conference football title games as these conferences currently stand. If the member institutions of the PAC-10 believe they can stand to make more money as a 10-team league (after all, splitting the pie 16 ways versus 10 makes a HUGE difference, especially with the added cost of travel to Texas/OK), it might be enough to prevent the Pac-10 from destroying the Big 12, the Big East and the current makeup of the ACC.

I fear it’s too late—that I’m tilting at windmills.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott has put his foot to the floor. He’s moving forward with a great head of steam. Even if the NCAA were to come forward TODAY and reverse that rule, too many wheels have been set in motion, I believe, to turn back.

But that’s the NCAA’s lone “hail mary” left at its disposal if it wishes to stop this current expansion proposal. They would be wise to use it, lest the PAC-10 destroy college athletics as we know it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:48 am

    The Big 10 expansion possibility has more to do with money generated from the Big 10 Network than it does with championship games. And, with the Big 10 expanding, the PAC 10 would have to expand to keep up. I don’t see how the 12-member rule has much impact on the state of affairs.

    • June 7, 2010 1:32 pm


      Thanks for stopping by.

      If the Big 10 didn’t need a football conference championship game, why expand? Wouldn’t adding 1, 3 or 5 more teams simply dilute the tremendous amount of money flowing in from the Big 10 Network? If each of the 11 current teams gains $20 mill/year from the current structure, adding three more teams would decrease each team’s take by nearly $5 million. Conversely, to maintain the $20 million/year revenue stream, the Big 10 would need to restructure their TV deal to net an additional $60 million per year. That seems far fetched.

      “The rule” is what kick-started this whole expansion cycle. The profitability of the Big 10 Network perhaps fanned the flames to encourage the PAC-10 and Big 10 to grow past the 12 number, but I believe the ACC would’ve ceased expanding at 10 teams and both the Big 10 and PAC-10 would be content in their current iterations had the 12-team rule not be in place (or been a 10-team rule instead).

      The NCAA is certainly in a tough spot, and they don’t have many options at all in slowing this train after it’s left the station. But I think the math would work for the PAC-10 and the Big 10 to stay at their current sizes if they could add the revenue from a title game without having to split that revenue any further. The PAC-10 (and Big 12, SEC, ACC and Big East) could still form their own TV leagues at their current sizes with their current television market footprints and make great money. Maybe not Big 10 money, but great money nevertheless, with minimal impact to their conference members.

  2. Scott permalink
    June 7, 2010 1:55 pm

    if they repeal the 12 team/championship rule, can we kick out V Tech and BC?


  1. How The NCAA Can Take Action To Stem Tide Of Megaconferences (via Riddick & Reynolds) «

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