THE FINAL FRONTIER
Today it’s the American Athletic Conference’s turn. The AAC holds it’s annual football media day in Newport, Rhode Island, a chance to not only preview the season but for Commissioner Mike Aresco to offer a state of the conference address entering the academic year. Aresco’s opening remarks will appear almost as an afterthought.
One by one the “Power 5” conferences, the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten, have previewed their football seasons and, not just the state of their leagues, but the state of the NCAA, which, in about ten days, they will control. The NCAA is expected to next week approve turning over the majority of it’s legislative power to those five leagues. The “Power 5” commissioners have used their football media day addresses to preview moves they’ll make once they have the autonomy to determine their own direction.
Last week Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed the “Power 5” will establish payments for scholarship athletes that will cover all the costs of going to college on a four year, rather than year to year, basis, while also offering athletes an additional “spending money” stipend. Two days later Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky announced his league, hoping to become a sixth member of the power structure, has already approved such payments.
One area Bowlsby addressed but declined to step too deeply into was enforcement. While he admitted that cheating generally goes rewarded due to a lax enforcement arm in the NCAA he said the “Power 5” were not ready to take that final step of creating their own enforcement division. With each “power 5” conference opening address the commissioners appear to leave a shoe for the next commissioner to drop, and yesterday, at the Big Ten media day, at which the league welcomed newcomers Rutgers and Maryland, commissioner Jim Delany issued one of the most explosive declarations. While most of the discussion has dealt with restructuring Delaney said the “Power 5” are in a position to create their own enforcement arm. “We need a system that works”, Delaney said in his opening address, further charging, “There;s no doubt NCAA enforcement has struggled over the last couple of years.”
For the “Power 5” to add to their own new autonomy by undertaking their own enforcement would be to enter the final frontier of separate operation. Anything Mike Aresco says today at the AAC media day will only pale by comparison, in a league that pales by comparison.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.