College football operates by the assumption that traditions should be maintained – often despite all evidence pointing toward devising a new structure and process. The latest consequence of this philosophy is the potential establishment of different regulations for schools in the top five conferences of the bowl subdivision.
Schools in these conferences will have the chance to alter the terms of scholarships to allow more financial aid as well as earn money in other ways not related to the sport they receive a scholarship for. Basically the NCAA is allowing conferences to create rules to allow for more money to go to the players.
I have long advocated for allowing the players to be able to get more money so I won’t argue against these developments. But I will point out the absurdity of the direction the NCAA is allowing things to go with the thought that it can retain control.
Basically the NCAA is allowing these conferences to make their own rules because the NCAA wants a piece of the money the money that big time college football generates. The conferences were tired of following NCAA rules which they argued was affecting that revenue. So the NCAA said “OK. Make your own rules that would be more beneficial.” In doing this the NCAA has basically given authority to the conferences.
The basic rules are still governed by the NCAA but that’s only because the conferences don’t care enough to take the time to create basic rules for themselves – yet. Once that happens what is to stop the conferences from deciding that they don’t need the NCAA for anything? And they don’t really. People will show up for college football no matter what; the schools will gain revenue and can fund the other sports however they’d like. This reminds me of the American Revolution. Quick history tangent – once parliament blinked and repealed some taxes, it was basically a green light to the colonists to say we don’t want any of your taxes. These conferences will soon come to a similar conclusion about the NCAA.
The other ticking time bomb is the double standard it creates among the top five conferences and every other conference. Theoretically the schools in those conferences could also schedule athletic contests among each other (albeit with less revenue being generated) without NCAA input. Theoretically they could decide which rules are important and establish new regulations to abide by.
The service provided by the NCAA (rules and oversight) has always been necessary. But it was never necessary that the NCAA provide it. There is great value in doing something first and then pointing to tradition. The NCAA has been standing on tradition for over 100 years.
But all things come to an end.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.