COLUMBUS, Ohio – There is no signed document linking the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, and Pacific-12 conferences to the alliance they officially announced on Tuesday.
Pac-12 commissioner George Klivakoff described the collaboration as “an agreement between three gentlemen” – himself, ACC commissioner Jim Phillips and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. All three said the need to collaborate on common interests – from their shared vision for college sports to ensuring better broadcast packages through football programming – outweighed signing a formal agreement.
“If you have to go back and look at a contract you signed, you’ve probably made a deal with the wrong parties,” Warren said, referring to a lesson from his favorite Notre Dame law professor.
“Are contracts important? Absoutely. Where we are now in varsity athletics, what we need is for things to be stable. There is a lot of uncertainty right now.
Phillips, a former Northwestern athletic director, said the three commissioners were “married” within the past month or so, based on time spent together in person or in conversation.
Warren rebuffed the suggestion that the SEC’s addition of Oklahoma and Texas of the Big 12s last month sparked the Alliance. However, he admitted that the expansion has forced other conferences to reassess their futures.
“Don’t measure us by what we say,” Klivakoff said. “Measure us by what we will do in the years and decades to come. “
Here’s what we know about how the Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 plan to approach those futures and seek that stability.
The conferences confirmed that they will reach a programming deal for men’s and women’s football and basketball. The details, however, still need to be worked out.
On the one hand, many schools have already planned non-conference football games well in the future. Warren said the Big Ten will honor all of their existing contracts.
By 2035, the three conferences are already scheduled to play nearly 70 football matches against each other. This number increases if you count Notre Dame as a member of the ACC.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported that Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith will be part of a three-conference AD working group that will oversee this planning component. Warren said a potential reduction in conference games from nine to eight is among the factors that will be considered.
“We’re really at the start of this,” Warren said.
Attractive non-conference football programs are essential as some conferences approach the start of new broadcast deals. Big Ten’s deal with ESPN and Fox spans the 2022-2023 academic year. Fox is also a stakeholder in the Big Ten Network.
Warren mentioned “the opportunity to play in epic clashes” as one of the motivations for forming the Alliance.
According to a press release, the Alliance will create early and mid-season men’s and women’s basketball games in addition to annual events featuring “top games”. The Big Ten and the ACC already share a popular basketball annual programming agreement, which has been in existence since 1999.
Warren said he was in favor of expanding the college football playoffs, but was not ready to commit to a specific model – including the 12-team proposal that came out earlier this year. summer.
“I am a firm believer in the expansion of college football playoffs, but I also believe in the method and preparation of our homework,” said Warren. He added that he had spoken to “over 100 people in the Big Ten footprint” about the matter.
The number of teams included – like extending from four to 12, as in the current proposal, or some other number – is just one of the variables. Warren mentioned the location of the playoffs and the inclusion of TV partners as other factors that need to be explored.
The Alliance has listed “post-season championships and future formats” as one of the “opportunities and challenges” at the heart of its roster.
And the Big 12?
The Alliance is seen by some as the three conferences involved taking a stand against the increased power and influence of the SEC. Still, it notably doesn’t include the fourth Power 5 conference – and the one that lost two teams to the SEC – the Big 12.
Warren spoke of his respect for Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. He said he expects former Iowa and Stanford AD to “do what’s best for his conference.” However, the lack of attractive options can be limited.
The Big 12’s status as a formidable football conference may have been dealt a fatal blow by departures from Oklahoma and Texas. For example, only one other Big 12 program – No. 7 Iowa State – is ranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25.
“We want and need the Big 12 to be successful,” Phillips said. “The Big 12 is … in our squad (Football Bowl Subdivision).”
Beyond football-related factors, the conferences said they formed the Alliance for reasons related to the well-being of student-athletes. These included mental and physical health, academics and diversity, inclusion and social justice.
However, they also spoke about the need to form a unified front on issues such as the structure of the NCAA going forward and potential federal legislation. The NCAA has only begun to tackle the income effects of name, image, and likeness. It has planned a constitutional convention in November to consider an overhaul of its governance model.
“We are still unpacking this information,” Warren said. “Whatever decision is made, we need to make sure we have an inclusive voice, have student athletes at the center and do the right thing alongside them.”
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