Conference Realignment: A League of their Own
The Confidential has had some fun recently exploring different topics for hypothetical realignment scenarios such as relegation and team trading. While the tectonic shifts of conference realignment have settled since the ACC added a Grant-of-Rights, and the Big XII seems to have resolved their Conference Championship Game dilemma, there has been chatter among some of the private schools that changes could still be on the horizon.
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Specifically, there were rumblings that if players are allowed to unionize at private universities, and are to be treated like employees, then some of the private schools may respond by down-grading their athletics programs to a lower division – or eliminate their big time sports programs altogether.
Notre Dame’s athletic director and Northwestern’s president emeritus said Tuesday that if college athletes ultimately are ruled to be employees of their respective schools, they foresee their universities withdrawing from the current setup of big-time sports.
The argument largely stems from the belief that removing the amateur status will somehow diminish the charm and tradition of college sports.
It seems highly unlikely that this will actually occur and that this is just an idle threat, and if anything, the private schools could use this as a way to level the playing field against large public schools: the potential to pay athletes more. In the college-sports arms race, we’ve seen at least one school announce that they could pay their athletes up to $10k per year, however most schools have indicated that $5k/year seems about right. By contrast, private schools could determine that paying a minimum wage of $7.25/hr. for 40 hrs. per week would equate to over $15k per year. In reality, most schools would likely only pay their athletes up-to the maximum number of hours for practice permitted by the NCAA, and would would not pay during summer sessions, which would likely bring the amount paid to student-athletes much closer to $5k.
Never-the-less, this could actually be an opportunity for the private schools to finally break-away from the NCAA-cartel, stop being forced to compete with public and land grant schools with seemingly unlimited coffers, and form a new league for private schools.
Sounds crazy, sure…but consider a completely autonomous sports league, outside of the confines of the NCAA, comprising of the following teams organized in regional pods:
|Private League – All Sports|
|Basketball & Lacrosse|
|Georgetown||Villanova||Tulsa (Baskbetball), Johns Hopkins (Lacrosse)||Denver (Lacrosse)|