On Tuesday, the Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 announced an alliance that aims to "stabilize a volatile climate" in college athletics. They will collaborate on important issues facing the industry and create a future scheduling partnership.
The football scheduling component, as well as women's and men’s basketball, "will start as soon as practicable while honoring existing contractual obligations," however the decision-makers involved stated that the alliance was not motivated by revenue.
The three leagues have not entered into any contractual agreements regarding the alliance. There is nothing that prohibits them from poaching their teams. However, Tuesday's message was that there is less incentive to do so.
Jim Phillips, an ACC commissioner, stated that it was a time when three new commissioners were able to step in and say, "This has a chance of really being volatile." We all know that expansion leads to more expansion. Rarely has there been a domino that didn't fall, which has led to a few more subsequent membership changes.
"We experienced friction between two of the most important conferences that make up Power 5. It was so important to find some stability to help us all work together over the next few years.
Three commissioners created the partnership -- Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff -- spoke to reporters via videoconference. They did so in front of a blue backdrop that already combined the logos from the three conferences.
According to a news release, the alliance was unanimously supported by all 41 universities' presidents, chancellors, and athletic directors.
Although there were certain topics that they agreed to discuss together, such as the future structure and social justice and gender equality issues of the NCAA and the future of the College Football Playoff, the real news was much more abstract. Conversations and questions were centered on the future with little to no impact on today's changes.
A summer of dramatic changes brought about the alliance between the three leagues. It started in June with a proposal to create a 12-team playoff. Then came legislation on name, appearance and likeness that allowed for athlete compensation. This was followed by a Supreme Court ruling that opened the way to NCAA governance reform and the imminent move of Big 12 cofounders Oklahoma to the SEC.
Warren stated that although Warren wouldn't claim this was a reaction to Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC, "but to be completely honest, you have to assess what's happening in college athletics." ... This year is one of seismic shifts. I believe it's important to be aware of these things and to do everything we can to protect our conferences.
The Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 are stronger together and the SEC will be the first 16-team superconference. However, the future of the Big 12 is uncertain.
Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 commissioner, declined to comment. However Phillips from the ACC stated that they want the Big 12's survival.
Phillips stated, "Let's just say it straight." We want the Big 12 to succeed. College athletics is a major focus of the Big 12. The Big 12 is important in Power 5 and FBS. So I can only tell you that we will be closely watching this -- although obviously, the transition is not supposed to take place for four more years. This group will be particularly interested in what happens. We'll do our best to ensure that college and athletics are similar to today regarding the number of opportunities and the commitment one another.
Bowlsby and Greg Sankey, the SEC commissioner, continue to meet on weekly calls with the three commissioners. The 10 FBS commissioners will again meet in September to discuss the 12-team playoff proposal and meet with the 11 university chancellors that make up the CFP's board.
Phillips stated that the ACC is still in the process of deciding where it stands. Warren and Kliavkoff however expressed support for expanding with certain caveats.
Warren stated, "But also, I believe in being methodical" and doing my homework.
Kliavkoff stated that the Pac-12 was "100% in support of expansion", but there are "issues near the margins" that he would like to continue discussing.
Kliavkoff stated that "all the criteria related CFP expansion are on the table for consideration" and "any component of that is open to debate."
Both the Pac-12 & Big Ten will examine whether they would like to reduce their conference schedule from nine to eight games to make room for nonconference contests as part of the alliance. The ACC plays eight conference games and has a partnership agreement with Notre Dame. It also has its rivalry games against other conferences.
Warren stated, "That's something we will have to address at a later date." "We guarantee that we will keep all our existing games and contracts in order."
Kliavkoff stated that his league has a contractual obligation to nine conference games after the expiration of its media rights agreement.
Kliavkoff stated that in order to move to fewer games faster than three years, partnership with ESPN or Fox is necessary. "But I believe there's a compelling argument to argue that the games that we could replace them with if they were part of the alliance would make that move worthwhile and very compelling." That will be discussed with our media partners as well as our alliance partners.