The SEC and Big Ten conferences have made a joint announcement that has sent shockwaves through the world of college athletics. In a 259-word release, they have essentially proclaimed, "We got this." They are taking matters into their own hands and will shape the future of college athletics themselves.
With their immense resources, including money, talent, recruiting, facilities, and brands, the SEC and Big Ten hold significant influence over the landscape of college sports. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to bring about change, even if it means collectively bargaining with players and implementing revenue sharing.
This announcement is not about mere scheduling agreements or superficial alliances. The SEC and Big Ten are addressing the significant challenges facing college athletics, including recent court decisions, pending litigation, and a patchwork of state laws. They aim to eliminate the endless conga line of legal disputes regarding name, image, and likeness, antitrust, and transfers.
If the NCAA does not agree to their reforms, the SEC and Big Ten have the leverage to stage their own national championship. They have received indications from networks and the market that such a move is plausible. This could potentially lead to a breakaway from other conferences, but the SEC and Big Ten would prefer to first affect change within the existing system.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has been dropping hints about this course of action since June 2023 when he criticized the composition of the NCAA Board of Governors. The recent lawsuit filed by the state of Tennessee against the NCAA also suggests a possible end to the organization if it refuses to adapt.
While the SEC and Big Ten have historically been rivals, there is now too much money and power at stake for them to remain separate. Their shared rivalries and strong TV ratings make them a force to be reckoned with. If the NCAA cannot handle the current mess in college athletics, the SEC and Big Ten are ready to step in and take control.
The NCAA can no longer hide behind the excuse that it is merely enforcing membership-voted rules when those rules themselves may violate federal law. With the SEC and Big Ten asserting their influence, it is clear that a power shift is underway in college athletics.
These conferences have made it clear: they are ready to lead the way and reshape the future of college sports. The NCAA must either adapt or step aside as the SEC and Big Ten take charge.
© 2004-2024 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
CBS Sports is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting Inc. Commissioner.com is a registered trademark of CBS Interactive Inc.
Images by Getty Images and US Presswire