The Plausibility of Secession: A NCAA Hypothetical for SuperConference Expansion

Derrick StacyCorrespondent IIJuly 14, 2011

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in action against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

 The Plausibility of Secession, a NCAA Hypothetical

Over the past several weeks there has been a loud uproar, raging like the rapids of the Kentucky River, on athletic message boards up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The talk of possible expansion into the Atlantic Coast Conference reached an all-time high following the introduction of a hypothetical situation on the website Southern Pigskin. The proposed situation regarded two of the colleges residing in the Pittsburgh media market—West Virginia and Pittsburgh—and the possible idea of their entrance into the ACC.

This massive discussion has developed and morphed into an even broader paint swipe, the idea of complete secession from the NCAA and the ability to use Super Conferences to establish a whole new realm of sports. This new world can exist under its own rule, absent from the overwhelming conglomerate known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The idea of separation from the NCAA is a thought that has long been tossed around, but never attempted to be implemented. However, the recent allegations of BCS corruption and the NCAA interpretation and enforcement of their own rules have led to rumor circulation and the emergence of interesting discussion on secession.

Which brings us to ask, “What is the most likely scenario in which secession from the NCAA might occur?”

The current trend developing is the perfect storm for future separation. The obvious favoritism that is shown towards several of its member institutions, along with the aforementioned futile attempts at rule enforcement, appear to be causing schools to become increasingly wary of what the future holds.

The NCAA has grown into a powerful institution that slowly oversteps boundaries with each passing day. Eventually, the everyday struggle that exists will become an overwhelming elephant in the room, causing dissolution of the current system.

To remove the NCAA from the picture, many of the larger and more prominent member institutions will need to segregate themselves and form a newly established association of schools. This proverbial divorce would allow them to leave behind the archaic cave drawings that the NCAA attempts to enforce on a daily basis.  

The leaders of the newly formed association would then be able to produce a much more modern version of a rulebook—a set of rules that would allow crimes to be met with an appropriate punishment.

Obviously, the above sounds superb, but how would the super conferences and member teams be chosen? What schools would make the cut?

Obviously, institutions with the most financial power, specifically in football, will be high on the list of candidates.

The Chosen Ones

Below, you are going to find a hypothetical scenario of four future power conferences—consisting of 64 teams.

We have chosen 64 because the number gives us the ability to produce four super conferences. Introducing the four conferences will help to implement a four-team football playoff and still maintain the option of a bowl system for teams that do not earn the ability to participate within the playoffs.

With men’s basketball being the other primary revenue-producing sport, the number 64 is self-explanatory. March Madness, up until recent years, always used 64 participants within a tournament format. However, under this scenario, only the major conferences will be in play and every team will be placed in the tournament field.

Yes, this will rid March Madness of much of the excitement that mid-major teams brought to the forefront, but, remember, this is about financial success. Those smaller colleges do not produce the dollars and cents that are needed to warrant their inclusion. Even though they are being left behind in this process, they would still maintain the ability to participate under the current NCAA guidelines and power system.

With that being said, here is the possible breakdown of the conferences that I have personally developed. 

Please remember, this is a "What if?" proposition.

As mentioned earlier, we will have four 16-team conferences, which we will call Midwestern, Southern, Eastern and Western—basic and to the point.   

Disclaimer: Before you attempt to locate me via GPS and tracking devices, if I offend your team, please remember that this is a secession based on football and the revenue from football. The weak will be left behind.

Midwestern: Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Notre Dame

Southern:  Florida State, North Carolina State, Clemson, Wake Forest, Miami (Fl), Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Arkansas, Louisiana State, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas Christian

Eastern: Maryland, Boston College, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Connecticut, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Penn State, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Rutgers

Western: Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas, Oregon, Stanford, Washington, USC, Oregon State, Arizona State, Arizona, CAL, UCLA, Washington State

As you can see, we have developed four geographically sound, competitive and marketable Super Conferences, with an appropriate team number of 64. Based on the above scenario, it appears that there will be several legitimate teams that would have an argument for inclusion.

Teams Left Out: Boise State, BYU, Air Force, Baylor, South Florida, Memphis, Utah & Nevada

Will these teams have a bone to pick, or could they be interchangeable with certain teams included? Most certainly. However, it will be physically impossible to appease every fan base in the scenario mentioned above. BYU, Utah and Boise State are three very strong schools that would bring tons of positives to the table, but there will be teams that do not make the journey for this to work properly.

There is always the possibility of adding another team to each conference, but then scheduling becomes even more of a problem. Plain and simple, certain teams will have to be left behind and stay under the current NCAA umbrella, while missing out on the newly formed allegiance and the fiscal benefits that are rewarded with the elite membership.

This newly formed association of colleges will have the ability to profit significantly from the increased revenue streams that will benefit them individually and as a whole, allowing them to better provide for their student-athletes.

The overseeing, supposed non-profit organization that previously held power—shhh..the NCAA—will no longer be able to fill their deep pockets off the exposure and talent of their amateur athletes, with no profit to anyone but themselves.

As the University of Kentucky basketball coach, John Calipari, stated in a recent interview with Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio:

“All that television, all that revenue goes back to the schools. You probably have $10 million that would go directly to the schools, to their academics and not have anything to do with athletics. You’d be able to give that living expense to all your athletes. You’d probably be able to get your Title IX in order.… 

“And, lastly, you would be able to give money back, let’s say, on campus for intramurals. Each school would have the best intramural program for the kids on your campus so that they can do athletic things and stay in shape and those sort of things. All that money would go back to those schools and not be divided and paid for this and that.” 

The situation described above develops a winning situation for all parties involved in the transition, and while many schools will be affected by being left out to dry, so to speak, that is the nature of the beast.

College athletics is a multi-billion-dollar industry that currently exists under the policies of a domineering, profit-mongering organization. How long will these powerful athletic departments continue to lose a share of their revenues with the NCAA, a group that obviously does not have their best interest at heart?

No one, other than the upper echelons of the schools' internal hierarchy and conference leaders, has any meaningful insight. However, as long as the discussion continues to migrate throughout the communities of collegiate fan bases, there will always be the determination that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.


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