It’s not hanging by a thread.
But sooner — much sooner — rather than later, the string that’s barely tying the Power Five conferences to the NCAA is going to come unraveled.
And then break.
All the indications have been growing lately.
Want a prime example?
There’s the utterly unprecedented move the NCAA recently made regarding the eligibility of Arizona State punter Michael Turk. After garnering first-team All-Pac-12 honors, Turk declared for the 2020 NFL draft, signed with an agent and participated in the NFL combine.
But guess what happened next?
Turk didn’t get drafted. He didn’t even get signed as a free agent.
Next stop, Canadian Football League?
It’s the logical guess. After all, he broke every single rule regarding his collegiate eligibility. In fact, even if Turk were a basketball player with hoops’ relaxed NCAA rules about signing with an agent and participating in combine workouts, he still couldn’t have maintained his eligibility.
That’s because Turk didn’t withdraw his name before the draft as such collegiate stars as West Virginia University’s Oscar Tshiebwe and Marshall University’s Jarrod West did.
So, by all previous standards, Turk was out of luck, right?
In a stunningly contradictory move, the NCAA restored Turk’s eligibility and he will have two more years to play at Arizona State.
So, why the NCAA’s sudden leniency?
It’s because the NCAA has gotten beaten in court on such a regular basis lately, it’s as if their lawyer is Hamilton Burger going up against Perry Mason.
Well, guess what? The NCAA has grown very tired of losing in court, so Mark Emmert and company have softened their stance in hopes of not looking like the bad guys all the time.
But in the process, the NCAA also has put its inherent weaknesses completely on display.
Think it was a coincidence when the commissioners of the Power Five conferences recently went completely over the NCAA’s head to the federal government?
It was a display of utter disrespect.
The five commissioners sent a letter to Congress dated May 23, according to Stadium and confirmed by The Washington Post, requesting legislation to regulate college athletes’ ability to profit off their names, images and likenesses. The letter urged lawmakers to act “as soon as possible” and “not wait for the NCAA” to continue its slower-paced decision-making process.
The five commissioners of the Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-12 wrote in behalf of all 65 Power Five schools. The letter said they supported “legislation providing a single, national standard for NIL that would protect student-athletes, provide economic opportunity and promote academics.”
The NCAA wasn’t expected to act on this until the 2021-22 academic year. That’s why the Power Five commissioners went over the NCAA’s heads without hesitation.
Again, it shows the level of disrespect the Power Five commissioners have for the NCAA. That’s why the Power Five commissioners acted as their own entity instead of like a part of the NCAA.
It’s very, very telling.
It always has been a matter of time until the Power Five staged a coup and left the NCAA. The reason is obvious. As the NCAA loses court case after court case, its hold over the Power Five steadily wanes.
And now it’s tenuous at best.
First the letter from the Power Five commissioners, and now the favorable ruling for Turk are clear indications of upcoming moves. It is merely a matter of time until the Power Five departs the NCAA and rules itself.
That leads to an interesting question.
When that occurs, which probably will be sooner rather than later, what happens to the Group of Five?
The first casualty will be the “Access Bowl.” Then, if Group of Five leaders have any common sense, the five conferences — American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference USA and Mid-American — will set up their own playoffs and crown their own champion.
It’s a move that should have been made a few years ago.
This easily could turn into a win-win situation.
For everybody, that is, except the NCAA.