SEC Commissioner Mike Slive (photo:Marvin Gentry,USAToday)
The spring meetings of the South Eastern Conference got underway yesterday in Destin, Florida. And for the first time in several years SEC scheduling is not the hot button issue. That decision was put to rest (at least for now) April 26th when the league voted to keep the 6-1-1 model.
However, there are several important issues to be considered this week by the presidents, athletic directors, and head coaches from the revenue producing sports of football and basketball.
On the agenda will be the discussion of programming for the new SEC Network and more importantly how the revenue sharing will be handled. In addition, AD’s and football coaches will consider the best way to respond to growing national interest in an early signing period.
It also looks like the issue of alcohol sales at SEC games will be on the table. However, Commissioner Slive said Tuesday that, “Discussion will be about neutral sites not covered by the SEC rule preventing on campus sales.”
And despite Bret Biliema’s denial yesterday, it’s a safe bet that talk will surface about his and Nick Saban’s proposal to force offenses to wait 10 seconds before snapping the ball to slow down the Hurry-Up-No-Huddle offense. After all Biliema has not missed an opportunity yet to push for a change in the game.
The most significant topic though, will be the so called “Autonomy” proposal under consideration by the NCAA.
Probably as a result of the Ed O’Bannon law suit and the Nortwestern NLRB decision the NCAA Board of Directors gave tacit approval last month to a proposal that would allow the five big conferences to come up with a plan to govern themselves.
Under the proposal the Big-5 conferences (SEC, Pac-12, Big10, ACC, and Big10) would still be under the NCAA umbrella but would have the authority to set their own rules.
Some of the things to be decided are:
* How much latitude in governing themselves will the Big-5 have?
* Will this mean the larger Universities will be able to grant “full cost of attendance” scholarships?
* And if increased financial aid is awarded student-athletes, will it be across the board to every sport or just football and basketball?
* Will a new subdivision affect more than the ability to provide student-athletes a financial stipend?
* Will there be separate rules governing the recruiting process?
* Will it result in easier transfer rules for football as in the other sports?
Those questions and more have to be hammered out before a new super subdivision can be created within the NCAA.
The league has to decide this week what position it will take on the various questions because the Division I Board of Directors meets the end of August to vote on the Big-5′s separating from the rest of Division I schools.
We wrote in this space a few weeks ago that the times are changing in college athletics. Jay Coulter’s Tuesday article about the possible removal of conference divisional play is just one example of those changes. And the mere chance that the NCAA would consider allowing 65 schools to basically write their own rules is proof of just how much change is on the horizon.
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