When asked by ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi whether the NCAA’s lack of control over postseason play in college football was frustrating for him, NCAA President Mark Emmert simply replied: “That part’s never really bothered me much at all and again this is about serving the will of the membership. We’re a membership association. If that’s what they want to do, fine that’s what we’ll do.”
It does not seem Emmert is bothered by conference realignment either, stating he did not like seeing the traditional rivalries blown up while saying nothing about the academic and student side of the equation.
With Temple University’s announcement March 7 that it would leave the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Atlantic-10 Conference and jump to the Big East Conference for football in 2012 and for all sports in 2013, it seems the Owls are not concerned about those factors either.
Temple, who competed in the MAC East Division in football since 2007, will pay the MAC a $6 million exit fee while receiving financial assistance through Big East revenue distribution.
Once again, it is all about the money.
The Big East has gone to extreme measures to maintain its conference legitimacy, pulling in Temple following the departure of West Virginia University starting in 2012 and of the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University starting in 2014. Six additional schools will join the conference starting in 2013, including Southern Methodist University and Boise State University and San Diego State University as football-only members. The Naval Academy will join as a football-only member in 2015.
Some conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, have increased exit fees to retain schools that have become more concerned about whether their conference will remain a power-player in the Bowl Championship Series than whether their athletes will be able to manage team, travel and academic requirements.
Temple’s move impacts not only Miami University’s football team but also the entire athletic program.
The MAC will likely once again have uneven division alignment following the addition of the University of Massachusetts, with seven schools in the East Division and six in the West Division.
On top of this, Temple has dramatically improved their football program over the past five seasons, adding legitimacy to a conference that regularly sports multiple teams with sub-.500 records.
If Miami hopes to continue to strengthen its athletic program, it must compete in a conference that reflects its values but that also bolsters its athletics, and the Owls conference jump undermines the later part of this equation.
Last season the MAC implemented new football-only member exit provisions that included requiring of two football seasons of advanced departure notice and placed a $2.5 million fee on that institution. These provisions were obviously negotiated for a different arrangement with Temple.
Miami Athletic Director (AD) Brad Bates, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher and other conference ADs must demand more from fellow MAC institutions.
Temple’s jump makes them no better than the University of Colorado, Boise State University or the University of Missouri, but now this conference realignment fad has hit home.
The question is how will the MAC respond.
We know the NCAA is not going to do anything about it.