Conference Realignment: The Perfect NCAA Examples for the Knight Commission

Christina De NicolaCorrespondent IJune 10, 2010

SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 30:  Cameron Meredith #34 of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers looks on during the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against University of Arizona Wildcats on December 30, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Cornhuskers defeated the Wildcats 33-0. (Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Oh, greed.

What funny things you cause.

Like a Big Ten Conference with more than 10 teams.

Or a Pac-10 Conference with schools thousands of miles away from the Pacific Ocean.

Instead of teaching student -athletes proper math and geography, they're learning the foundation of greed.

It's something the Knight Commission—formed in response to collegiate scandals during the 1980s—has been researching ever since.

An obsession with winning and moneymaking corrupted NCAA sports, particularly football.

At the time, one-third of current and former professional football players said they had received illicit payments while in college.

Twenty years later, does Reggie Bush ring a bell?

Now, USC is sure to pay for it, while Bush cashes in on millions of dollars in the NFL.

Back in 1989, when the commission concluded its initial research, it said that high school athletics was now the latest "entree on the American sports menu."

Twenty years later, do and ring a bell?

In some cases athletes attend top schools for a chance at better exposure and higher draft possibilities. 

At Florida State during the academic scandal, a few players couldn't even write their own names.

Instead of trying to help athletes toward a degree, tutors keep them eligible with minimum standards.

Now, Bobby Bowden loses career victories and the track and field team loses a national championship.

By the 1990s, two-thirds of the Knight Commission's recommendations were adopted by the NCAA and programs began to be punished.

Academic rates improved, but there were still problems.

Ten years after the first report came out in 1991, 52 percent of universities were penalized during the decade.

That meant rule-breaking became the norm. Cheating was the way of life. 

Under the influence of TV deals and mass media, college athletics is becoming less about the players on the field and more about the revenue.

Collegiate basketball and football have more of a professional feel.

TV accounts for nearly 80 percent of the NCAA's revenue.

It's rarely a question of "Is my team on TV today?" but "What channel is the game on?"

March Madness gets more network coverage than the NHL playoffs.

With this entire debacle between the Big XII, Big Ten and Pac-10, the programs are succumbing to the pressures of the marketplace, and not answering to higher education.

Let's make millions of extra dollars by leaving the rest of the teams in the conference in shambles.

That's humane enough, right?

It's all about where the best TV deal is. Not where loyalty lies.

Conference rivalries will be discarded. Travel expenses will go up.

But won't the networks love it?


Some numbers and facts are from a Knight Commission powerpoint in my Ethical Decision-Making in Sports course at the University of Miami. 


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