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July 24, 2013

Plans For D4

Filed under: Conference,Money — Chas @ 1:37 pm

In a previous post I said there were a couple themes running through every major conference media day. The other theme was the idea of the major conferences sort of splitting off from the rest of the 1-A.

They wouldn’t leave the NCAA. Oh, heavens no. They want that protection. They want to give their fans, media, and the courts that pinata to pin all the blame on when trouble hits. But they want to have a different division that appreciates their unique status.

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford said Monday the next six months are “very important” to the future of the NCAA and predicted that significant structural and governance changes could be implemented at the governing body’s annual convention in January.

Among the changes up for discussion would be the formation of a so-called “super division” that would allow athletic departments with high-revenue football programs to make some of their own rules and implement things like athlete stipends. Many of those initiatives have been blocked by lower-revenue programs, which make up the majority of the NCAA.

This echoes the comments from Mike Slive of the SEC and Bob Bowlsby at the Big 12.

But again, this isn’t about breaking from the NCAA. The college presidents — even the ones at schools raking in the cash — would never go for that. Slive put it out as the nuclear option, but Swofford is more realistic.

“That’s a potential way of making a change that would basically retain the fundamental NCAA oversight and umbrella, if you will,” Swofford said. “If the five conferences were to break off, I mean, that’s a complicated move. You’d have to, in essence, duplicate the NCAA in some form or fashion, and then what does that mean for intercollegiate athletics? So if you’ve got another division, if that’s the answer within the NCAA, you can maneuver and find an appropriate way, I think, to address those kinds of issues.”

It makes sense and it isn’t as much of a threat as it is reality. The big conference schools want to be able to add Cost of Attendance (COA) stipends — which all the lower-tiered schools fought back and prevented. There are other issues, but that’s the familiar one. For a school in the MAC — that would be a financial killer.

The question would be difficult for programs in the American and Mountain West. They aspire to be with the big boys — or at least hold out hope to be called upon to join (UConn, Cinci, USF, UCF, Boise, SD St., etc.). But given the vast difference in TV money, can they afford to be a part of the “Division 4”?

UNC’s AD Bubba Cunningham made an interesting (and self-serving) suggestion for anyone who wants to be part of the D4. That all member schools have at least 24 sports in the athletic department, as opposed to the present minimum of D1 of 14. UNC sponsors 28 sports so they have no worries.

The rest of the 5 conferences? I’ll go out on a limb and predict that will be a non-starter.

Nationwide, the 65 schools in the Power 5 conferences are each sponsoring about 20 sports. But they are not evenly distributed by conference. Here are the medians for each of the Power 5 conferences:

  1. Big Ten: 24
  2. ACC: 23
  3. SEC: 20
  4. Pac-12: 19.5
  5. Big 12: 18

That gives us a rough approximation, but a better measure is how many schools have fewer than 24 teams and how many total each conference will need to add. Here are the conferences sorted by the average number of teams institutions below 24 would need to add:

  1. Big 12: 10 institutions, 56 teams (5.6 avg)
  2. Pac-12: 9 institutions, 45 teams (5.0 avg)
  3. SEC: 14 institutions, 59 teams (4.21 avg)
  4. ACC: 10 institutions, 41 teams (4.1 avg)
  5. Big Ten: 6 institutions, 18 teams (3.0 avg)

Every single Big 12 and SEC institution would have to add teams. Most of the Pac-12 and ACC would have to increase their offerings as well, at a clip comparable to the Big 12 and SEC. Meanwhile, the Big Ten seems to have a substantial leg up on the rest of the country on this front.

49 of the 65 schools would need to add at least one more sport. Pitt is on the lower end with only 19 sports sponsored. Adding 5 more sports would be a costly undertaking. Frankly, despite the nice average numbers the ACC would probably not go for it. Six of the member schools would need to add 5 or more sports. Chalk this idea up to being DOA.

Still, with regards to a Division 4, there is a sense that the major conferences will make this happen in the next year. The enforcement headaches are another aspect that will encourage it.

That said, don’t expect the lower revenue Division 1 schools to like this and roll over on it. You think there are haves and have nots now? It just gets worse. That cost of attendance stipend would be a killer. I mean the MAC has enough problems with Pitt taking players they recruit. It would be that much harder if Pitt could offer a COA stipend as well.

Forget the football side for a moment.

Think basketball. Think about the kids who for whatever reason chose a mid-major. Say, a Zeke Marshall, who opted for Akron over Pitt and others. Does a kid turn down the extra money from a major conference just because he can get more playing time earlier and the particular major that Akron offered?

Heck, what does a conference like the Big East do? They are D1, but basketball only. Think how their recruiting suffers if they can’t offer the full cost of attendance stipend.

I’m sure the basketball-only schools and non-power conference schools find the Big 5 a bit of a bully and trying to force things on them. But they will not willingly let them split into another division and further minimize them.

This seems to be coming, though. With all the conference commissioners talking publicly about it, this is just a matter of time.

Before the “tsunami” commences in regard to which colleges are worthy of being CONSIDERED “BIG”, I woulsd like to suggest the following in regard to really CLASS ACT. That is Mr. Inge, late of the amazing Pirates. I would recommend the Todd Graham, who is not a “CLASS ACT”, in my opinion, should be requested to read how one demonstrates loyalty and respect to those among whom he (or she) labors in the sports world. It is refreshing to know that there are some individuals who place integrity and ethics above other alleges priorities. I think Mr. Graham has shown over the years he can coach, but he has NOT DEMONSTRATED how to teach young men to be the best they can be. Now carry on, fellow bloggers with your thoughts on paying student athletes and other concerns in the monetary realm. Rev. George from Columbus

Comment by Rev. George Mehaffey 07.24.13 @ 2:22 pm

This is the kind of bs that gives college athletics a bad name and could eventually lead to indifference and apathy by current fans. Myself included.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 07.24.13 @ 2:24 pm

“They want to give their fans, media, and the courts that pinata to pin all the blame on when trouble hits.”

Very poignant, Chas!

It makes me laugh when I read these imternet articles blaming the NCAA for everything, when in fact, (1) they enforce the rules voted upon by its members, and (2) they are not the bad guys for imposing its sanctions — the schools breaking the rules are the bad guys.

Prominent PSU alum, Paul Alexander who is part of the morning show on 93.7, The Fan, harshly criticizes the NCAA every chance he gets like they are to blame for the horrific things that had occurred at Happy Valley. Of course, the previous President, Director of Secuity, AD and Coach had nothing to do with it.

Comment by wbb 07.24.13 @ 2:37 pm

They should form the National Collegiate Football League (NCFL) and each college team becomes a minor league affiliate of an NFL team. Pitt is under the Steelers. All NFL rules apply.

Comment by Frank MD 07.24.13 @ 2:40 pm

That means the Dolphins, Bucs, Saints, 49ers, and Cowboys will win all of the Super Bowls

Comment by wbb 07.24.13 @ 2:49 pm

Affiliation not dependent on geography.

Comment by Frank MD 07.24.13 @ 3:04 pm

I read that the proposed D4 may allow part-time students to be eligible. One class per semester makes you a “student athlete” …

Comment by 2$Chuck 07.24.13 @ 3:12 pm

I understand the skepticism but isn’t it time to eradicate the influence of colleges like Seton Hall and Providence in decision-making for major college football programs? And wouldn’t such a split put pressure – necessary pressure – on the Pitt chancellor and AD to make decisions that promote competitive athletic programs, instead of hiding behind piss poor excuses of academics ahead of athletics, when we all know excellence in both is possible? Look at Notre Dame, Stanford, UCLA, and the list goes on…

Comment by TonyinHouston 07.24.13 @ 3:37 pm

Graham’s ASU squad is on the upswing. Paul Myerberg (former Pre-snap read author) at USA Today picks ASU to be the #40 team in the country(Pitt, two years after Graham, is #84). There are no excuses for the way he left Pitt, but he can coach, and his offense is flourishing.

Comment by TonyinHouston 07.24.13 @ 4:17 pm

Asu has talent and already has guys recruited to the spread. Graham did a very good job recruiting jucos for this year. They are a popular pick to win their division this year.

Comment by Pk 07.24.13 @ 4:35 pm

I’m all for Pitt improving its academic standing by hiring world-class professors, going private and look towards joining the Ivy League. Of course this dream will never happen. I’m not at all in favor of paying football and basketball players beyond today’s scholarship offerings. ,

Do colleges cheat, of course. But paying a kid to play football for Pitt is not something I’d be ever be in favor of. Given thatess than 1% of college athletes make it to the pros, I’d be more in favor of helping the athletes get a meaningfull degree that will help them find their life’s work. My opinion.

Comment by MariettaMike 07.24.13 @ 4:46 pm

In addition to a free education, recruits get free food and athletic apparel. My initial reaction is that they shouldnt get paid additionally. These guys are getting a free education worth 100,000s of dollars just because they can run and jump and, lets face it, a lot of them dont have the grades to get into a particular school without their athletic abilities anyways. Now you want to give them additional spend money? I dont know if i like that

Comment by Pk 07.24.13 @ 5:02 pm

@ TonyinHouston, it is simply a case of basic horticulture. Most things grow well when supplied with a constant supply of BS.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.24.13 @ 7:12 pm

colleges make millions and these kids get nothing? many from less well off families with little ability to help them with spending money (and D1 demands so high they have no time to work?)

a few crumbs in the form of a few grand is a minimum they should get for all the $$ they make programs.

most programs dont care if they get their degree either.

wow, how close did we come to be one of the few screwed programs frozen out of the real $$ looking in! cinci… uconn… could have been us.

Comment by Pittscript 07.24.13 @ 10:40 pm

Industrialization was killed off by the Unions…and the generation of entitled…When GM has to pay a assembly line worker $40 an hour and give them 5 breaks a day and 1 hour for lunch there is no way to compete.

Comment by Upittbaseball 07.23.13 @ 3:38 pm

Needed to comment on this popular myth.

There were no unions in the South, where Textile Mills were around by the hundreds in 1992 when I first moved here. Those Textile mills are ALL closed now even though their workers made a measly $7/hour in 1998, plus all the fibers their lungs could inhale.

So tell me what did the unions have to do with $7/hour non-union Textile mill jobs moving to Mexico ?

Comment by EMel 07.25.13 @ 1:57 am

Speaking of entitlement.

One just needs to look at the culture of D1 football and hoop programs.

So they want to entitle them even more by ‘paying’ them now.

What a free education to a school they couldn’t normally meet the entry requirements for isn’t enough. Not to mention, free housing, free books, free 3 meals a day, free healthcare should they need it, etc., etc.

The Entitlement culture of most of these athletes is unbearable now, they don’t need any more.

Comment by EMel 07.25.13 @ 2:02 am

This is what happens when money $$$$$ is the motivating factor. The ‘monied’ schools want to play by their own rules. Sound familiar.

I doubt very much Ped State gets placed on 4 year bowl ban and scholarships losses if the Big 5 are making their own rules. Do you ?

Comment by EMel 07.25.13 @ 2:10 am

This is the kind of bs that gives college athletics a bad name and could eventually lead to indifference and apathy by current fans. Myself included.

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 07.24.13 @ 2:24 pm

I second that LSPF !

I’m pretty close to it now.

Comment by EMel 07.25.13 @ 2:11 am

I’m for the no politics policy, but nice one Emel.

I am against paid players, but if it happens the NFL should contribute since they have a free farm system as it stands.

Great article about Zanna this morning. Hope he steps up to the next level this year. Impressive work ethic. He says he needed to get stronger so he has put in the effort. We need more guys like him, as opposed to JJ Moore, who instead of working on his deficiencies, left.

Comment by gc 07.25.13 @ 6:11 am

The NBA should contribute as well.

Comment by gc 07.25.13 @ 6:13 am

It is human nature to abuse power, and when some of the labor unions amassed great power, they took advantage of it in negotiations.

Of course, unions were formed in the first place because of the abuse of power by management, especialy the industrialists of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Nowadays, there are no unions in poor Asian countrie where 12 year olds make $7 a day working 10 hours, while Phil Knight (big JoePa advocate until the Freeh Report) rakes in millions.

Comment by wbb 07.25.13 @ 6:23 am

Here’s an alternative to the idea of a college football “super division” that pays stipends to players.

How about a Triple A minor league team funded by the NFL?

This would enable these NFL-hopefuls to forget about going to class altogether and devote all of their time to becoming better players in preparation for the potential of a Big NFL Pay Day.

There, that solves everything.

Comment by PittofDreams 07.25.13 @ 10:03 am

my idea (especially in basketball) pretty much revolves around the same thing. Pro teams can draft underclassmen and fund them, and can either send them to D League or back to college. They do have to maintain a college schedule.

I.e., Steve Adams would be funded bu OKC but play for Pitt the next 3 years, however, once he begins year at Pitt, he cannot be called up to NBA until Pitt season is over. And once he plays in NBA, he cannot return to college ball.

Comment by wbb 07.25.13 @ 11:22 am


Players deserve to be compensated. Yes
they receive a full ride and athletic gear.
However most players come from lower
socio-economic backgrounds and therefore
do not have access to financial support
from their families. Players need spending

Comment by JR 07.25.13 @ 11:28 am

The NFL has the best sweetheart deal in professional sports. They have a free minor league system that produces stars and hype before they even make it to the NFL. College stars are household names before they ever sign a pro contract. The NFL will protect this relationship at all costs (the 3 year rule being an example) so its absolutely ridiculous to think that they will ever form a minor or D-league system.

Comment by 2$Chuck 07.25.13 @ 11:47 am

When Pitt starts paying its scholarship athletes is when I stop donating to the University. I don’t need to see my money go to some athlete who is already getting a free ride through school.

Comment by MariettaMike 07.25.13 @ 12:37 pm

My stance is that I cpould care less about the NCAA or any of the other college football programs. I care about the PITT program, the PITT coaching staff and the PITT players.

All else is of no real concern to me.

Honestly, other than PITT getting an additional $16M per year I could care less that we are in the ACC even. It all means exactly the same in the long run. You have to win the individual games.

I couldn’t care less what ranking we are outside of the Top 25.

I couldn’t care less about any recruit rankings at all.

I couldn’t care any less about our AD. I’m way more concerned about who the next Chancellor at PITT will be.

I couldn’t care less about an on-campus stadium. I’m WAY more concerned about PITT protecting and reusing the historic buildings in Oakland now more than a new football stadium.

I couldn’t care less where Shell ends up playing football or how well Robert Foster does at Alabama.

In other words I don’t care.

Comment by Reed 07.25.13 @ 1:40 pm

Dr. Tom:
And no one does it better than you.

Comment by TonyinHouston 07.25.13 @ 3:59 pm

Scholarship athletes should be paid at the same level as a “work-study” job by the Universities. Yes, they are getting a full ride, but so is the kid who is on a full academic scholarship. The difference is that the kid on the academic scholarship does not have to go to practice for 20 hours a week, take long road trips for away games, and participate in off season conditioning. And, in the case of FB players, those young men literally risk their life and limbs every time they play.

Comment by HbgFrank 07.25.13 @ 6:46 pm

Reed: I concur your last post. I only care about Pitt as an institution of higher learning. I enjoy and closely follow Pitt athletics and want my alma mater to win. I’m not in favor of turning Pitt’s athletic programs into a minor league for the NFL or NBA by paying athletes who are already getting a free education. I’ve been sending Pitt donations since 1966 but will stop the day Pitt starts paying their scholarship athletes. If the Alabama’s of the world want to compensate their athletes, I could care less.

Comment by MariettaMike 07.25.13 @ 6:50 pm

No ones holding a gun to these kids heads to play football or basketball for a school.

An education, all the fantastic food they can eat for 4 or 5 years, lodging for 4 or 5 years, probably nicer than where they came from. First class phyical fitness centers, tutors to almost force you to get your degree. Now, they need spending money too??

How about this?? Don’t go to school. Go get a job and start your life.

Millions of other youngsters, coming from the same lower socio-economic background, don’t even get this chance.

I don’t care for the pigs that are a lot of these schools and the NCAA too, but now they need pizza and movie money too??

P.S. Not to mention, 4 or 5 years of world class health care to meet their every whim.

Like I said, if it’s that big of a hassle, don’t go. No one’s forcing you.

Comment by Dan 07.26.13 @ 9:10 pm

Hell, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this example earlier while I was typing.

Next door neighbors son Doug. He’s been working at Sheetz schlopping hot dogs all summer, and is going to continue to work there until January, hopefully so he can save up enough money to take some classes at CCAC in January.

It ain’t rosy for lots of people. No one ever said it was going to be either.

Comment by Dan 07.26.13 @ 9:47 pm

Many of you blogging here want Pitt to be in the Patriot League. Whether you agree with paying athletes or not just doesn’t matter. Some form of compensation, long overdue, in addition to scholarships, will pass. Pitt decided it wanted to keep playing with the big boys so they’ll need to pay up. Pitt always wants it both ways. They want to be recognized as a major player in sports then they parsimoniously distribute funds. The overall record of Pitt’s athletic teams shows how under-funded athletics has always been.

Furthermore, the two conferences actually in control of college football want to lessen the power of presidents (are you listening, Nordenberg?) and put the power in the hands of athletic directors (which is why the campaign to boot Pederson must continue).

Comment by TonyinHouston 07.27.13 @ 2:38 am

Tony – that is ridiculous, there has been college football for over 120 years and it hasn’t been necessary to pay the players yet all of a sudden it is a urgent need? Why exactly?

Many, many schools have excellent graduation rates with their football players even though their kids have the same time and energy demands as any other school so that isn’t impacted by paying the kids or not.

The players are well compensated as it is, they can get money the same way everyone else does – bug their parents for it… but really, how much $$ does a football player need above and beyond what they already receive from PITT.

Beer money? That’s like saying they need money for cigarettes. Laundry money… put a couple washers and dryers in the Southside facility and let the kids do laundry while they practice, I don’t believe that is a violation of any NCAA rules.

The sense of entitlement that football fans feel these players deserve is outrageous. All they are are kids who can play a sport well. Not one thing they are doing on that filed is going to contribute to society’s well being at all.

Now, the fact that they are students might garner those societal returns and some players actually grasp the idea that they are being handed the keys to a successful future on a golden platter but it is in the classroom, not on the football field.

Honestly, I want to vomit when I hear fans say that these players are ‘being used’ by the universities, that is the biggest fallacy in sports. What is happening is in many cases the universities are giving these players their ONLY real shot at a successful life by awarding that scholarship and all the associated benefits that go with it.

Comment by Reed 07.27.13 @ 4:46 am

How much money an athletic department has and how much a university is willing to put into it’s athletic department, is totally SEPARATE from paying players.

I’m all for the university putting more money into the athletic department. I would have no problem with that.

As far as paying players, no one is going to have an advantage. The players being paid, would be paid the exact same amount at every school across the board.

Paying players will not “better” the athletic programs one iota.

As a matter of fact, legally, when they start paying a stipend to the football players, all athletic sports participants will be paid the same.

Yes, if they pay a football player, they will have to pay a volleyball player also.

And no, the football player will not be able to have $2500 and the womens tennis player only gets $500. They will all get the same.

That is why the big schools want to break away. They can afford to pay all of their athletes.

i.e. Texas will not be able to decide, “we’ll give $2500 to our players” while Pitt can only give $1000. Oklahoma decides $1700, Clemson $2100, UCONN $500.

It will be an agreed upon figure, what they are talking about now is $1500 to $2000.

It will be the exact same for everyone, there will be no advantage in improving your athletic programs one bit. All big 5 power conferences will be giving the same amount of money.

***NOTE***, I’m not talking about “under the table” money, or cars or gifts or the crap that’s been going on for 50 years.

I’m only speaking of what the rules will be. Whether people follow them or not, that’s a different story.

They will also call it a “stipend” so the athletes can continue to be called “amateurs”.

So, my point. If you are not in favor of paying athletes, that has nothing to do with wanting your university to fund athletics.

So, the paying athletes issue, has nothing to do with wanting it both ways.

Comment by Dan 07.27.13 @ 11:08 am

Paying athletes is long overdue??

That’s funny, I thought they got paid…

1. A four year education in the field of their choice.

2. Top of the line food, at any time of the day they want for 4 years. Meats, fruits, cheeses, vegetables, desserts, snacks, pretty much anything you could imagine. Like going to a vacation buffet every day.

3. Free room and board for 4 years.

4. Free best in the world medical coverage.

5. Tutoring to help get the degree, people at your beck and call 24 hrs. a day.

6. World class excerise and fitness facilities.

7. Not to mention, playing sports, something that they absolutely love doing.

Now it’s long overdue that they need WAM????

You know, if I was a kid today, athletically gifted, and wasn’t going to get any WAM with the things listed above, I’d tell all the schools to all go to hell and wouldn’t even go.

I’d show them!

Comment by Dan 07.27.13 @ 11:26 am

8. And occasionally a free lifetime ride in a wheel chair or an all expense paid trip to a grave.

These young men put a lot on the line. No one is talking about making them highly paid professionals. We are talking about pocket change so they can hang at the Dirty O with their friends from time to time or take their girl to a movie. Not every college kid is a spoiled rich kid. The same is true for college athletes. So they get tuition, room, board, coaching, and medical treatments. Does that mean they should have no other life experiences while in college? If they are practicing for 20 hours a week, going to class, doing their studies, and their parents can’t help out financially, do you also expect these kids to work a part time job for 15 or 20 hours per week so they can have some pocket change?

Comment by HbgFrank 07.27.13 @ 6:55 pm

Let’s see. About 80 kids on a Div 1 team right.

80 x 125 teams = 10,000 kids, roughly, playing football every year, eh????

Now, exactly, where is this epidemic of kids in wheel chairs, and God forbid, kids in the grave, from playing college football???

I mean, if there’s some epidemic I don’t know about, let me know. I stay pretty up to date on current affairs, haven’t seen this.

I remember the kid from PSU, Talifero, and I’m sure there are a few others.

This is rampant in college football?? My apologies, I didn’t know.

How about the kids, that don’t have any money, that don’t go to college??? Millions of them, don’t even get to attend college, let alone have the golden oppurtunity.

What about those kids??

What about the kids that go to college, don’t play sports, and still don’t have any money??

Again, if it’s that much of a hassle, just decline the scholarship.

Comment by Dan 07.28.13 @ 9:25 pm

I also didn’t realize we have an epidemic in this country of kids being forced to play sports.

Seems like most of them love it and would rather be playing football and basketball than anything else in their lives.

Seems for some, that excel, it’s a great way to get college paid for. Especially if that’s the only way they’ll ever get a shot at a college degree.

Comment by Dan 07.28.13 @ 9:33 pm

Epidemic? I wrote “occasionally”. Where do you get epidemic from that. The point is the players risk serious harm every time they play.

Comment by HbgFrank 07.28.13 @ 11:21 pm

They choose to play.

Comment by Dan 07.29.13 @ 9:11 am

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