NCAA moves a little closer to a split

The NCAA moved closer to giving the top five conferences in college athletics autonomy today when the organization’s board of directors endorsed sweeping changes that would alter the landscape of college athletics.

The top five conferences in the land — the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC — would be granted “autonomy to make rules on specific matters affecting the interests of student-athletes.”

The board spelled out exactly what that means:

Areas in which the membership generally agrees on autonomy for the five conferences include:

– Financial aid, including full cost of attendance and scholarship guarantees;
– Insurance, including policies that protect future earnings;
– Academic support, particularly for at-risk student-athletes; and
– Other support, such as travel for families, free tickets to athletics events, and expenses associated with practice and competition (such as parking).

UNT and the other schools in the next five conferences — C-USA, American, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt — would fall into a second tier of leagues above the next 22.

The NCAA also proposed a rule change that would eliminate the senior transfer rule that has allowed some athletes to transfer and play right away if they have graduated like Vertrail Vaughns did this year for the UNT men’s basketball team.

Players who receive a hardship waiver would receive a sixth year of eligibility instead.

Council members propose that student-athletes who cannot transfer and play immediately without a waiver be allowed a sixth year to complete their four years of eligibility, if they qualify.

My take?

A split isn’t going to help UNT. Neither would a new transfer rule.

One of the advantages UNT had sitting in the middle of one of the best recruiting territories for football — and these days men’s basketball as well — is that it is a perfect spot for players who want to transfer back to Texas and be closer to home.

Players are a whole lot less likely to transfer in if they have to sit a year.

The separation of the top conferences in the land would also open the door for the top leagues to offer benefits that would differ from the second tier of college football. There has been momentum over the last few months for athletes to be compensated at a level above the traditional athletic scholarship.

If The teams in the top five leagues can offer more, it’s going to make those destinations all the more attractive.

UNT is in a better situation than it has ever been in C-USA.

That won’t change no matter what happens with the proposed separation of the top five conferences in the land.

More and more, it looks like the landscape of college athletics is about to change, though.

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