View Full Version : SEC, C-USA, Sun Belt and A-Sun commissioners discuss changes to BCS, expansion, agent rules

04-16-2012, 08:45 PM
From the Washington Post

SEC, C-USA, Sun Belt and A-Sun commissioners discuss changes to BCS, expansion, agent rules

By Associated Press,

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive and Conference USA head Britton Banowsky agree that change is likely coming in the method of crowning college football’s national champions.

Banowsky expects more than just cosmetic changes to the system.

“It’s my sense that there’s an interest in change, some meaningful change going forward,” he said Monday. “I don’t know how dramatic that will be, but I don’t think that means making tweaks to the current system.”

Banowsky, Slive, the Sun Belt’s retiring Wright Waters and Atlantic Sun chief Ted Gumbart spoke at the Associated Press Sports Editors Southeast regional meeting across from Southeastern Conference headquarters.

Discussions on changing the BCS, conference realignment, agent rules and paying college athletes were among the topics.

BCS leaders are scheduled to meet for a fourth time April 24-26 in Hollywood, Fla., when the Football Bowl Association holds its annual meetings.

“We’re all trying to do what’s good for college football,” said Slive, whose league has captured the last six football national titles. He has previously pushed for a plus-one model with a title matchup decided after the bowl games.

The All-SEC BCS championship game matchup of LSU and Alabama in January helped spark the movement for change.

A new BCS format must be in place before television negotiations with ESPN open in the fall. The current four-year deal runs through the 2014 season.

The commissioners have acknowledged a four-team playoff is among the options being considered.

USA Today has reported that the potential plans also include a “plus one” format, an amended version of the current system, and a four-team playoff proposal that would ensure a Big Ten/Pac-12 Rose Bowl semifinal pairing.

The last model prompted a smile from Slive.

“It’s not one of my favorites,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is simplify in many ways. I don’t think that adds to the simplification of the postseason.”

The commissioners also weighed in on other hot issues.

— Slive doesn’t mince words on the current rules governing agent dealings with college athletes.

“The rules we have are more part of the problem than the solution,” said Slive, who pointed out there are ongoing discussions to address what has become a major issue. “I don’t think those rules work. I don’t think they’re realistic.”

—An advocacy group’s report last September estimated the average fair market value of top-tier college football and men’s basketball players is over $100,000 each. Slive, though, is not in favor of paying players beyond the full cost of getting an education, saying that would make them professionals and “unaffiliated with the academy.”

“It’s a very tender line,” Slive said. “We are in the world of academia. One can get cynical. But we are in academics, and I think therefore the universities are not interested in having professional athletes as a subset of its academic mission.”

Then again: “We’re talking about an academic enterprise that has culturally become a phenomenon it was never intended to be.”

Waters, who is being replaced by former Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Carl Benson, noted that the athletic scholarships don’t cover the full cost of attending college.

“There are scholarships on campus that do cover all of the costs of going to college,” he said. “We have to recognize that our grant has to be competitive to any grant on campus.”

— Banowsky addressed the recent conference expansions and Conference USA’s plans to merge with the Mountain West, creating a league with as many as 24 teams across five time zones.

“I view these changes as more or less natural changes,” he said. “I think it just happens and you can decide how you want to react to it, whether you fear it or embrace it. We’re trying to reposition our universities in the best possible way and move them forward.”

He said consolidation “continues to be something that’s getting a lot of traction.”

In the big picture, Slive said college athletics isn’t in altogether new territory with current challenges.

“We have to work hard to keep the balance and try not to tip it over,” he said. “The issues we face are difficult, but every era of collegiate athletics have faced significant issues of this nature.”

04-16-2012, 08:52 PM

From the Orlando Sentinel

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Playoffs, pay-for-play and conference expansion were topics among a broad-ranging discussion Monday among reporters and commissioners from the Southeastern Conference, Conference USA and the Atlantic Sun Conference. They gathered at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame for an APSE Southeast Region meeting, which included the question-and-answer session also with recently retired Sun Belt Conference commissioner Wright Waters.

Next week, meetings will be held in Hollywood, Fla., to consider four options for the Bowl Championship Series from minor changes to the possibility of creating a four-team playoff.

Concerns entering the meetings include the future of automatic qualifiers, conflicts between a postseason and the academic calendar, and location of games. SEC commissioner Mike Slive said a decision could come this summer before television negotiations with ESPN begin this fall.

Slive described the process as complex, and concluded each conference will have to weigh what is best for their member schools.

"It's real important to get consensus in this process because really you need everybody to buy into the outcome or else you won't have something that works," C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said. "The group has at its heart to make the college football postseason more relevant and better in the future. ... It's my sense in the room there's an interest in change, some meaningful change going forward."

Slive was specifically asked about one proposal that involves protecting the possibility of a guaranteed Rose Bowl matchup featuring Big Ten and Pac-12 schools.

"It's not one of my favorites," Slive said. "I think what we're trying to do is simplify in many ways, and I don't think that adds to the simplification of the postseason."

The commissioners shot down the idea of a restructured NCAA model spurred by a widening monetary gap between universities, which led to lobbying in recent months for financial solutions for student-athletes. Waters said athletic scholarships used to provide the best benefits on campus but have not been adjusted in decades. He said athletic scholarships have to be competitive with other grants and scholarships.

Slive does not favor compensating players beyond the full cost of an education.

"It's a very tender line," Slive said. "We are in the world of academia. One can get cynical. But we are in academics, and I think therefore the universities are not interested in having professional athletes as a subset of its academic mission."

Conference expansion had impacted each of the commissioners from the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri in the SEC to the merger of C-USA and the Mountain West Conference. Even Atlantic Sun commissioner Ted Gumbart remarked about the addition of Northern Kentucky. And the Sun Belt is eyeing expansion.

One criticism of some expansion has been the distance between schools, the price tag for travel and the impact on attendance and border fan interest.

Banowsky said one way to approach wide-ranging expansions is to create regional divisions, which in turn could create rivalries and limit the need for frequent long-distance travel.