The ball is now in the NCAA's court after Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive sent a strong message to the organization on Friday on the final day of SEC meetings.
Slive stated that the Power Five conferences, which include the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12, would consider moving to a "Division IV" if the NCAA doesn't award them autonomy and free up the big five to create their own set of bylaws, according to ESPN.com.
Slive made it clear that he and his colleagues would prefer to avoid shifting to a new division, per ESPN.com:
It's not something we want to do. We want the ability to have autonomy in areas that has a nexus to the well-being of student athletes. I am somewhat optimistic it will pass, but if it doesn't, our league would certainly want to move to a Division IV. My colleagues, I can't speak for anybody else, but I'd be surprised if they didn't feel the same way.
According to the ESPN.com report, moving to a new Division IV would allow the Power Five conferences to remain under the NCAA, while at the same time providing those conferences with the power necessary to offer their student-athletes increased benefits and resources.
The Advocate's Scott Rabalais provides some financial perspective:
The SEC is leading the charge on a proposal for the voting threshold, which, if adopted by the NCAA steering committee, would allow the Power Five conferences to pass legislation much more easily. The NCAA board of directors will vote on the proposal in August.
Although we'll have to wait a few more months before learning of the NCAA's decision, it's clear the SEC and the other members of the Power Five conferences are determined to gain autonomy.
By introducing the idea of a Division IV, Slive and his colleagues have put the pressure on the NCAA to provide them with the independence they covet before they potentially change the landscape of college sports in an effort to secure it.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.