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Power 5 Looking to Change the NCAA Structure

To achieve “transformational change,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby wants sweeping changes and a new federation for the Power 5.

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby
The talk about succession in one form or another from the NCAA by the so called “Power Conferences” isn’t going away. And to date, none has been more vocal about it than Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, although he claims he is adamant about remaining in the NCAA. Instead, he has been one of the leading proponets of a “super division” as a way of officially highlighting the power conferences from the rest of the Division I schools. In his annual state of the Big 12 press conference Monday Bowlsby spent a considerable amount of time discussing NCAA reform. He wants new rules favoring the power confences, and new structural and leadership changes to the basic NCAA platform. He wants sweeping changes and points out that just “trimming around the edges” is not going to cut it.

Bowlsby is parroting what some other commissioners have been championing recently. The subject of rule changes and a possible NCAA subdivision for the five power conferences has been mentioned by ACC commissioner John Swofford, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Ohio State AD Gene Smith among others.

According to Bowlsby, it seems the power conferences don’t really want to breakaway or succeed from the NCAA even though that has always been a veiled threat in the remarks of some of the commissioners. Bowlsby says it is not part of the discussion because there doesn’t seem to be a an alternative to the current NCAA structure. What he says they really want is a different set of rules to play by.

Like the matter of the stipend issue. Bowlsby and many of the officials from the larger conferences are still ready to pay athletes a $2,000 stripend. So far they have been stopped from that after a vote by more than 340 schools nixed the idea and that rebuff has been a sore spot with many of the larger schools.

The power elite would also like to create a separate division for themselves consisting of the SEC, PAC12, Big12, Big10 and the ACC. A federation that would create another division within the FBS ranks---a super division. During Bowlsby’s conference he also said he would like to go ahead and split up the sports and restructure how they're supervised as well. He states, "It's probably unrealistic to think that we can manage football and field hockey by the same set of rules.”

Bowlsby is quick to justify the changes by pointing out that the power conferences generate the most money and that they account for about 85 percent of the major NCAA championships. He fails to take into consideration that those championships have been generated at the exclusion of other FBS teams and conferences who have restricted access to major bowl competition that favors only the BCS/Power5 conferences.

But change is coming to the NCAA and the question is how big the changes will be. ACC commissioner John Swofford suggests they will be significant to both the structural body and the governing rules. And he states those changes could come as early as January.

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