Last night, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the organization would not be mandating a "uniform" return to sports for the colleges under their umbrella. Given the constantly-changing state of affairs, it appears Emmert and the NCAA correctly recognized that choosing an arbitrary date and telling schools they will be starting by then would create far more problems than it would solve.
Paul Finebaum went on Golic & Wingo this morning to discuss the development, and pointed out that the NCAA's decision to step back raised some interesting questions about the role the organization plays in college athletics. He then went so far as to say that Power 5 schools are looking for a reason to bid adieu to the NCAA.
"Not to state the obvious for anyone who swims in the college football waters like you guys, but Mark Emmert really doesn't have a permanent seat at the table," Finebaum said. "Yeah, the NCAA is important. They can decide on eligibility and compliance and everything else. But they don't control the starting date of college football. So what he said was accurate. It really isn't news because they don't have that authority anyway."
As Finebaum stated, the NCAA alone does not determine when the fall season starts. It's a collaborative effort between the heads of the conferences and the NCAA president. Finebaum was then asked: if the NCAA doesn't have that kind of authority, how much do the schools really need the organization?
"We really don't. That's why I think the college commissioners, the ones that really matter, are growing increasingly frustrated with Emmert. It really goes back to the day the sports world ended," said Finebaum. "When Emmert came out on that Thursday afternoon and canceled not only the NCAA basketball tournament, which was a fait au complet, but he canceled everything else in the spring, that was news to everyone else in college athletics other than the people in Indianapolis. I had the SEC commissioner within five minutes of that and he was shocked. He didn't know. No one else did either. By the way, it turned out to be the right decision, but the problem was he didn't consult anyone.
"That has really created a boulder between everyone else and Emmert. While they do control the NCAA basketball tournament and other NCAA-oriented events, the Power 5 conferences are looking for a reason, I think, to say, 'See you later, NCAA.' This may be that seismic shift."
That's a pretty big statement coming from one of the premier college football media members in the country. It would be quite a turn of events if a global pandemic gave the Power 5 conferences, the breadwinners of the NCAA, an excuse to secede from the organization. It would be extremely difficult, I'd think; while the Power 5 may not need the NCAA, per se, the association is deeply entrenched into the inner workings of college athletics. Sorting out how things would work if schools chose to leave the NCAA is an extraordinarily complicated task that I can't even begin to grasp the scale.
Frankly, as it stands it seems the problem is more with Emmert than the organization on its own, although it is easy to believe that there is constant underlying frustration with the NCAA. Perhaps a new president would ease everyone's frustrations. For now, they're stuck with him, though.