Posted: 2:57 pm Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Will autonomy, O’Bannon ruling change college football? 

By Tony Barnhart

I’m not big on hyperbole so just  trust me on this:

Last week’s NCAA vote to give the Big Five Conferences more autonomy followed by a landmark ruling in the Ed O’Bannon case represent the two biggest changes in college athletics that we have seen in 30 years. Not since the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the individual schools, not the NCAA, owned football television rights, have we had a moment this big that will literally change how college athletics goes about its business.

That 1984 decision begat mega-million dollar television packages for conferences (like the SEC) which begat conference championship games, which begat the BCS which ultimately begat the new College Football Playoff. Because of that decision the millions generated by college football has become billions and the popularity of the sport has boomed.

Last week’s decisions could be bigger. Let’s review.

  • The Big Five conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12) plus Notre Dame were asking — actually demanding — that they be given more autonomy to decide a host of issues and rules related to their sports. For example: The Big Five  want to give scholarships that include a stipend to cover the incidental costs, also known as the full cost of attendance, of going to college. For more than four years, the big schools have wanted to do this and were being outvoted and held back by the smaller schools. No more. The Big Five basically threatened to form their own organization if the autonomy was not granted. Last week the NCAA Board of Directors voted 16-2 (Ivy League and Colonial voted against it)  to grant that autonomy.
  • U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken presided over the Ed O’Bannon case where the former UCLA basketball star and other former and current players sued, claiming that the NCAA’s rules, which cap the value of a scholarship and kept them from sharing in revenues generated by their names, images and likenesses (NIL) violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. The judge ruled in favor of the players and shot down every argument the NCAA made that the current amateur model should stay in place. The NCAA plans to appeal.

So you ask, how does ‘any’ of this affect the games that I’m going to see on the field?

The short answer is:  “Not much.”

If you’re an SEC or ACC fan, you really won’t see any change at all. The autonomy ruling will surely bring about the cost of attendance stipend, but those schools can afford it because of additional money coming in from the College Football Playoff. The smaller budget schools in those conferences — like Vanderbilt and Wake Forest — will find it a little tougher.

The O’Bannon ruling, which doesn’t go into effect until July 1, 2016, will allow schools to set aside a minimum of $5,000 per year per athlete which represents a share of licensing revenues. The athlete doesn’t get the money until he leaves school. It’s a significant amount of money, but it is still doable for the big schools.

But if you’re a fan of the Sun Belt Conference — which includes Georgia State and Georgia Southern — you’ve got some big decisions to make. You’re already in a hole financially getting this program up and running in Georgia State’s case and moving to Division I in Georgia Southern’s. You’ll probably decide you can’t afford to play with the big boys, which was already true before last week.

So for fans there is almost no change. For the administrators of college athletics,  life just got a lot more complicated. But if you’re the parent of a scholarship athlete, your life is about to get a little better.

9 comments
JCGSU
JCGSU

It is the FCS that should be worried not the likes of GaSou and or GaState.  The Sun Belt was in favor of stipends last go around if "Mr College" football was not aware it was the majority of the FCS who had equal voting power that was not.  Paying stipends will not be back breaking for any FBS school while the same cant be said for the FCS teams like Sav State who make up the majority of the FCS world.  Even at the FCS level GaSou never lost money as an athletic program as a whole, so how in the world are we in the "hole" when we are already seeing and will see millions more in revenue? 

GSUMensBBFan
GSUMensBBFan

Georgia State isn't shutting down its program because if this. What Barnhart's article fails to mention is that the "Group of Five" conferences...like the Sun Belt...where Georgia State plays have always been for this. The "smaller schools" that Barnhart refers to are the FCS schools. They were the ones who voted this proposal down a few years back.

SoulofSuw
SoulofSuw

Tony,


Are FCS schools also required to set aside $5000 per athlete even though they're rarely (if ever) represented in video games?  And what is the extent of the coverage, will women's volleyball players also receive $5000/yr?


And do you believe that the 'Power Five' will eventually break away from the rest to create a new division in college football? And if that happens, wouldn't it be in the best interest of the schools in the 'Group of Five' conferences to simply accept their place and create their own playoffs and division system instead of attempting to keep up with the big boys?


Schools from the smaller conferences have little to no chance of making it into the current college playoff, let alone actually winning a title so why not create your own playoff system much like the FCS schools have now? This would generate more interest from those fan bases (and possibly nationally) for end of the year games and could potentially generate a little more cash through tv contracts (provided they do not eliminate bowls all together).

DawgNole
DawgNole

Nice to see your work in the AJC again, Tony.

Samoan Redcoat
Samoan Redcoat

So the richer get richer...the smaller schools/conferences don't have a chance.


Classof98
Classof98

@Samoan Redcoat Who cares?  How many people go to Georgia State and Georgia Southern games?  


If it weren't for the rich "big boys" in the power five conferences playing for over a hundred years, the smaller schools wouldn't even have football programs.


The elite teams, like Alabama, Michigan, Texas, etc,, built the foundation and paid the dues.  Now that college football is a multi-billion dollar industry, all the johnny-come-latelies who started playing football last week think they should be able to have a piece of the pie?


Life doesn't work that way.

GSeagles8
GSeagles8

@Classof98 who goes to Southern games? Alumni, students, and fans? Georgia Southern has always persistantly been top 10 in the FCS in attendance, averaging around 21,000 a game. Of course there are years where this isn't the case, but to say "who goes to Southern games" is idiotic. Also, we have only had 3 losing seasons since 1982, and have 6 national championships to go along with that.


As far as this article goes, it's far from the truth. The stipends payable would be at a MAX of 5K a year to basketball and football players. That is around 500K extra a year, which would be tough on G5 programs like Southern, but in no way impossible. If the G5 conferences knew that their teams couldn't handle it, they wouldn't have voted "yes" for it. Georgia Southern will be just fine, and I guarantee you that 5 years from now, the only difference this ruling will make will be happier players in D1 football/basketball and some new NCAA video games.

Samoan Redcoat
Samoan Redcoat

@Classof98 @Samoan Redcoat  IF you had a kid in the band or on the football team I bet maybe you'd go and watch if they played at Georgia Southern/Ball State .

So it's ok with you if the mid-level  programs struggle  and shut down football, depriving a lot of kids the chance to play football etc.!

Classof98
Classof98

@Samoan Redcoat By the way, what did you expect to happen when the inevitable paying of players came to fruition?  


It's funny how so many people who are in favor of paying college athletes are SHOCKED AND APPALLED that programs like Alabama, Florida and Georgia will be able to afford it more than Georgia State.