Texas A&M’s move to SEC evidence of NCAA’s lost mission

NCAA's Mark Emmert says all the right things but mission of college athletics continues to implode.

NCAA's Mark Emmert talks a good game, but mission of college athletics continues to implode.

A few days after NCAA president Mark Emmert reached for his talking points and attempted to assure the masses (suckers) that university presidents were “focused on what really counts, and that’s sustaining the collegiate model,” we must ask two questions:

What is that model and when did it mutate? Because all wonderful sound bites about integrity, academic standards and returning to the mission of college athletics notwithstanding, somebody just ran to the ATM again.

Texas A&M reportedly intends to leave the possibly crumbling Big 12 for the ivory towers of the SEC, with an announcement coming as soon as Monday, after banks open.

It’s understandable why A&M would want to escape Texas’ shadow in the Big 12 and come to the SEC, where member schools split a record $220 million in a revenue-sharing plan this fiscal year. I’m not quite as sure why the SEC wants A&M, because other than getting its toes into the state of Texas — assuming College Station counts — this is like a high-end mall expanding to add a Walgreens.

The bigger issue, however, is the continuing conflicting messages being disseminated by the hypocritical suits that run college athletics. They say it’s about academics, but they sign off on 12-game regular seasons, late-night kickoffs and “special edition” school-night games because, well, the checks cash. They say they’re about the big picture, but really they’re about only the picture that they’re in.

Tradition is gone. Perspective is gone. Any sense of tradition, doing what’s right or maintaining some semblance of the fabric of what has made college athletics so great and unique has been obliterated by the potential of the next TV deal.

There is no common good in college football, any more than there is in boxing. There are only independent contractors — college presidents, athletic directors, conference commissioners, bowl pooh-bahs — scrambling to fill their own pockets. Squint, and they all look like Don King.

University of California-Riverside chancellor Tim White, one of the NCAA’s chosen mouthpieces at last week’s presidents’ “retreat” in Indianapolis, referenced “the ecosystem of university life.”

It kind of makes sense. They’re just redefining “going green.”

White touched on “integrity” and “academic reform” and concluded, “We want to make sure that the entire ship is doing well, that the students are not being taken advantage of inappropriately, recognizing they’re student-athletes, not athlete-students.”

And then he jumped onto his unicorn and rode away through a field of towering yellow and purple flowers toward a rainbow.

Texas A&M’s move would be a significant domino to fall. That’s ironic considering the Aggies won their lone national championship in football in 1939 and have two bowl wins in the past 20 years (those in the Alamo and Galleryfurniture.com Bowls). Florida State, Clemson, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech all are swirling in the SEC expansion rumor mill.

We’re on a path toward an Orwellian landscape. Three college football superstates: Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia (with Notre Dame as an independent).

College administrators say they embrace the ideal of the student-athlete. If that were true, they wouldn’t base every decision on the potential for a new indoor practice facility.

The gap between the ruling class and the commoners is wider than ever. How does it go over in the rest of the Big 12 when Texas and ESPN partner to form the Longhorn Network?

The NCAA dumps on kids for selling a jersey or an autograph or taking cash from an agent. But they won’t give the quarterback a share of his jersey sales in the campus bookstore?

Presidents talk tough about raising academic standards for bowl and NCAA tournament teams. To borrow from Penn State president Graham Spanier, “We are unanimous that we need to bring a higher level of integrity to the conduct of intercollegiate athletics.” But every move they make screams, “We’re here for the money! Which way to the next Fiesta Bowl golf junket?”

The SEC has refrained from commenting on expansion plans. But they see what expansion did for the Big Ten’s and Pac-12’s TV deals. They’ll welcome anybody that can help fill the coffers. It’s not about nurturing, improving and improving college athletics. It’s an arms race. The collegiate model isn’t being sustained. It has been detonated.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

478 comments Add your comment

Athena

August 13th, 2011
3:59 pm

The day Schultz publishes a story that isn’t negative the world will fold in on itself and reform as something new.

Egbert

August 13th, 2011
4:03 pm

This is great for the SEC. A & M has played LSU often in the past, and Arkansas when they were both in the old SWC. Jeff, you may be right about the Orwellian landscape, but in this expansionist climate, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

ACC will Soon be the 7th or 8th Best Conference

August 13th, 2011
4:03 pm

When FSU and Clemson leave to join the SEC, winning the AAC will be like being the tallest midget. Nice league Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech will play in. Georgia Tech will be left with out a dance partner once the four super conferences with 64 teams are formed.

Sorry Dogs

August 13th, 2011
4:04 pm

There needs to be a “Super Conference”. No NCAA involvement, no rules, no pretend academic integrity. An NFL minor league, where NFL caliber kids can hone thier skills, get paid, and move on.

Let’s stop pretending it’s about the schools. It’s about these kids cashing in at the next level, and that’s really all it’s about anymore.

Its hard out here for a pimp

August 13th, 2011
4:06 pm

Jeff,

I do not mind A&M joining, especially if it may sway Oklahoma. But Missouri is in the mix? And Clemson and FSU obviously both make sense, which would leave the ACC as much a dead man walking as the Big 12…10…9….whatever

Saban

August 13th, 2011
4:11 pm

Glad to have our Texas friends in the conference. Hopefully they can give us a better game than Georgia. Is Richt still coaching Georgia or did his hair salon business take off.

Never let Kirby go there. Just too many things can happen in a place like that.

Does anyone know if Central Florida is that good?

UGABugKiller

August 13th, 2011
4:11 pm

Clemson and FSU make absolutely NO sense for the SEC.

The SEC is already in South Carolina and Florida. The SEC owns those states with the flagship schools.

It’s the same reason why Louisville and NATS makes no sense for the SEC.

After A&M, which opens Texas, and specifically, the Dallas and Houston television markets, to the SEC, the two schools that make the MOST sense for the SEC (if 14 is the number they want to stop at) is either VATech and Mizzou.

Both schools expand the geographic footprint of the SEC and bring with them LARGE television markets as well.

VATech brings the Washington, D.C. market, and Mizzou brings both the Kansas City and St. Louis markets.

The people who talk about Clemson or FSU don’t know what the heck they’re talking about. This isn’t about football. It’s about television and money. It’s a business.

And FSU and Clemson make no business sense for the SEC.

Besides, Auburn, Bama, UGA, and UF would block FSU based on recruiting in northern Florida, and USC would block Clemson (with help from Tennessee and UGA).

UGA '01

August 13th, 2011
4:14 pm

Good Read Jeff. The truth hurts, and most fans including me are part of the problem. I’ve changed my ways in recent years, though. We need to stand up for these students and quit acting like its horse racing. I am a UGA grad, and to be quite honest with you, I’d rather UGA leave the SEC and join the ACC. I think Vandy and Florida probably feel the same way. Academics and Honor Code should come first. The SEC has become a cess-pool, as murky as an NCAA ruling.

Sorry Dogs

August 13th, 2011
4:17 pm

You’re right UGA ‘01.

Prepare to get killed on this blog though. I think you just kicked a hornet nest.

Jordan

August 13th, 2011
4:17 pm

JackDennis

August 13th, 2011
4:21 pm

UGA’01: You’d rather UGA leave the SEC for the ACC due to murkiness and cess-poolism? The ACC? Are you kidding me?

richmondDawg

August 13th, 2011
4:21 pm

I think Clemson would be a great addition to the SEC…Frankly, we have much more of a history with them than we do with SC, and I doubt that we would block them. I can’t see the Vols having an issue with Clemson either. I agree with you about FSU, though.

Paul in NH (formerly RDU)

August 13th, 2011
4:23 pm

Jeff – I agree with you about the hypocricy that is FBS conference football. Many of these schools have long since lost sight of their true mission. Having said that, the schools are only giving their key stakeholders/donors what they want. Just read the postings on the possible expansion of the SEC and how many people view it like the expansion of a pro league.

bamaguy

August 13th, 2011
4:24 pm

I have long thought it made sense for FSU and Virginia Tech to come to the SEC, and for Kentucky and Vanderbilt to go to the ACC. It would make the SEC stronger in football and the ACC stronger in basketball. Fans (and ESPN) would prefer to see say Georgia and FSU play a football game and Kentucky and North Carolina play a basketball game.

UGA '01

August 13th, 2011
4:25 pm

Thanks Sorry – I stopped caring what my alumni buddies think a long time ago. I am all for playing your butt off and trying to win championships and be the best, but not at the cost of selling our soul. We have worked so hard in Athens to bring up the academic standards the past 30 years, and I just feel like UGA, Vandy, and UF have nothing in common with the rest of the league except for tradition and geography. I believe UGA can be a top 50 school and WIN, and I believe we will…unless these other SEC clowns keep figuring out ways (pay for play, side stepping ethical recruiting practices, over signing…should I continue?) UGA is not perfect by any means ethically, but, I truly believe my Alma Mater is dead serious about becoming better education-wise now. A&M and VA Tech are great schools, so I say add them and kick out Alabama and Tenneseee.

Aggies?

August 13th, 2011
4:26 pm

Wow. What a slam on A&M. “this is like a high-end mall expanding to add a Walgreens.” Pretty funny line.

panhandlebuzz

August 13th, 2011
4:26 pm

I agree with UGA ‘01,I have been a college fan for over 60 years. For the first time in over 20 years, I did not buy season tickets to GT football. I am sick of so called college athletics. They don’t care about the students, about education, only about the money. We have major financial problems in this country, and some schools are raking in millions. This has to stop. Let the pro leagues fund their own minor league systems.

UGA '01

August 13th, 2011
4:30 pm

Panhandle: Word. I am sure we’re gonna get flame-broiled on here though…even by my own alumni. Academics first. Football, 2nd or whatever. Leave it to the NFL to be the cess-pool of greed and abuse of humans.

Roswell Ed

August 13th, 2011
4:32 pm

Go watch the Ivy league if you want to watch smart kids.
How is this any different than Pres Jimmy Jr saying in 2008 that he’d cut the defecit in half in his first term? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaQUU2ZL6D8
I’ll tell you. This doesn’t effect any of us. We just watch great footbal on Saturday. The other, the Jimmy Jr lie, has each and every one of us in $50,000 in debt starting right now.
You worry about the integrity of the SEC. I’ll worry about Jimmy Jr and him ruining this great country.
When is kickoff?

mgmac

August 13th, 2011
4:32 pm

who in the heck is jeff schultz and why does his opinion matter?

UGA '01

August 13th, 2011
4:34 pm

Jack-you’re right, other good conferences have their own issues as well…no doubt. I’d just rather be aligned with Duke, UVA and UNC, personally. That’s all. You can’t question 11 out of the 12 schools in the ACC’s commitment to Academics.

CRO-MAGNON

August 13th, 2011
4:35 pm

Saban:
High and Mighty, you remember that dose of reality that LOUISIANA-MONROE laid on you boys, that 21-14 beating, and LOUISIANA-MONROE makes Central Florida look like National Champs…Thought I would remind you of LOUISIANA-MONROE, high and mighty….CHEW ON THAT….

UGABugKiller

August 13th, 2011
4:36 pm

Again, Clemson will not even be asked to join. History doesn’t matter. Clemson brings NOTHING to the SEC. Not one thing.

If you own a Widget Store, and it is doing very well, it makes absolutely NO SENSE to open up a second Widget Store across the street from your original store. You open the second store across town, in new territory.

It makes absolutely NO SENSE for the SEC to bring in FSU and / or Clemson. The only people who think so are fans who think things like “history” should trump good sense and reason.

Make no mistake boys and girls, we are in an arms race with the Pac-12 and Big-ZERO, an arms race we must win.

When A&M comes, we’re better off expanding to 16 before the other conferences do, cherry picking the teams that help us the most from a business standpoint, as well as a competitive standpoint.

Those teams are A&M, Mizzou, VATech, and WVU. WVU brings in the Western Pennsylvania market, which is mainly Pittsburgh.

You add Dallas, Houston, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh to your television market and you are now the undisputed king, and unassailable.

This is why you leave Oklahoma, OkieState, Kansas, and KansasState for the Big-ZERO to grab up.

Texas may go to the Pac12, with The Longhorn Network folded into their multiple-channel scheme they have, but then who else? Boise (too small, not an AAU school)? BYU (the socialist-minded Left Coast school add Mormon U? Yeah right)?

The SEC has a chance to force the Big-ZERO to expand when they don’t want to, by cherry-picking the best combination of schools & markets available, and in doing so, also putting the Pac-12 in a very difficult position based on the geography, political ideology, and academic standards of that conference.

The ACC, minus VATech, would then raid the BigLeast for Cincy, Louisville, UConn, Pitt, and Syracuse to get to 16 as well.

The Texas Schools not named Texas will either join (or rejoin) the MtnWest, or carve out their own conference with what’s left of the BigLeast & Big-XII.

The SEC can, in one fell swoop, alter the landscape for the better, getting rid of the weak sister conferences (Big-XII and BigLeast) and becoming the once and future King.

Greg

August 13th, 2011
4:39 pm

If they are going to expand then do it right! Add 8 teams and break into 4 Divisions 5 teams each division. That lets you play 4 games within division, keep the one rivialry game and then do the rotation for one team from the other 3 divisions. 1. North Div. GaTech, UGA, Tenn, Vandy & KY 2.South Div. UF, FSU, Miami, USC & Clem 3.Central Div. Ala, AU, MSU, Ole Miss & LSU 4. West Div. Okla, OSU, TA&M, Mizzu & TTech.

CHAMPS

August 13th, 2011
4:39 pm

Look SEC rednecks, keep your trailor parks and NASCAR image. We’re not interested either.

J Clay

August 13th, 2011
4:40 pm

UNC would make much more sense than Va Tech for those talking them up. Better academics, bigger name nationally….not predicting that would ever happen though. Think they are more likely to end up in Big 10 if ever leave ACC

Roswell Ed

August 13th, 2011
4:41 pm

Yeah UGA01 the ACC is so much more morally superior. What with Miami, FSU, UNC, Clemson Va Tech and the Vick Bros?
Cheese and Rice man this is football. Call me jaded but when I watch the SEC form 12:30 to 23:00 every Saturday academic integrity is the last thing I’m thinking about. In fact the only things I might think about besides football are a cheerleader break, do I need a beer at the next commercial and can I hold it til half time.
I’m very selfish about my SEC football and I like being that way.
Oh and WDE!!

Dorian3333

August 13th, 2011
4:42 pm

So…because schools change conference affiliation they can’t maintain academic integrity? How do you jump to that idea? Also, Schultz says that long time rivalries are being affected? No kidding. Doesn’t he think that the school that is moving has analyzed the pros and cons of the move? If they move and a rivalry is affected then there must be a good reason to break that tie. Texas and ATM have a long history but Texas is the one that is rocking this boat…not ATM. Texas is leaving all of those schools in the Big 12…they just haven’t signed the papers yet. ATM is doing the right thing for their long term well being and their academics will be fine. They can still play TX if they choose and if not I am sure they will get some heated action with AR and LSU…not to mention the rest of the West.

UGA '01

August 13th, 2011
4:43 pm

Roswell: WDE. Enough Said. Got where you’re coming from now.

Scott

August 13th, 2011
4:47 pm

I’m confused, A&M has better records than half the SEC teams. Admittedly that’s not saying much, but I don’t agree with the Walgreens comment. Maybe Foot Locker is more accurate. In all seriousness, A&M would probably do pretty well if they can recruit and I think getting into the SEC would help against Texas. Schultz writes as if he’s shocked (Shocked!) to find out college football is about the money. This isn’t 1930 ya know.

FlFootballFan

August 13th, 2011
4:47 pm

Central Florida is 3-45 against AQ teams, so personally I don’t think they are that good. Just my opinion.

FlFootballFan

August 13th, 2011
4:48 pm

You are probably thinking of the University of South Florida…. even the name goes for SEC!

user561698

August 13th, 2011
4:48 pm

Everyone, UGABugKiller is right. Expansion decisions will be based on television markets, ad revenue and cable/broadcast contracts. Geography and traditions will be secondary concerns. Money is power… the power to build better facilities… the power to funnel funds back into universities… the power to hire the best coaches.

Roswell Ed

August 13th, 2011
4:50 pm

Hey UGA’01 just because we’ve had 3 undefeated seasons since you had one and I was 13 don’t be bitter. I mean I can understand why you’d want to give up on football and all but cheer up Cha Cha y’all mite actually win 8 this year. What will that be 22 in the last 3 yrs.
UGA01 don’t go away angry just go away.

M Miller

August 13th, 2011
4:52 pm

Here’s the reason the SEC wants Texas A&M. TAMU in top ten largest (no. 7) campuses in the United States with very large alumi base. Pick up Dallas, Houston, San Antonio markets…check the population sizes. TAMU is far from a “Walgreens”…for example, oldest and first land grant public school in Texas (also, sea and space grant school). Just simply compare the endowment to that of University of Georgia. Texas A&M University $5.1 Billion with a “B” vs U of Georgia at $572.5 Million…nearly 10 times larger. Also, it’s not much smaller in size than the University of Texas without all the headaches and arrogance. Trust me, the guys at in the Birmingham HQ of the SEC know what they are doing and have done their math. As for a winning program, TAMU has always recuitied against at least 5-7 other Texas school for Texas athletes without a product like the SEC to sell…they will get better…and quickly. They have beat the University of Texas 3 out of last 4 years.
One other quick fact, it wasnt that long ago mid 1970s, Texas A&M was only .25 the size of the Univeristy of Texas. It was a toal military school similar to VMI until the 1960.
My opinion the SEC and Texas A&M together is a win-win for all…except the Longhorns and their new network.

Sorry Dogs

August 13th, 2011
4:52 pm

The power to pay for the best players.

JoeFan

August 13th, 2011
4:58 pm

Texas A&M makes absolutely no sense for the SEC. College Station is in the middle of no where. A&M has almost no natural rivalries with SEC teams. Its almost like having Arkansas in the SEC but worst when considering the level of fan interest. If the SEC is going to expand then stay within the southeast and focus on FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech.

Jeff Schultz

August 13th, 2011
4:58 pm

Athena– Come on. Let’s hug it out.

Jeff Schultz

August 13th, 2011
4:59 pm

Egbert –That doesn’t make it right. And pretty sure the SEC’s not dying.

UGA '01

August 13th, 2011
5:01 pm

Roswell…we’ll see how long ‘04 and ‘11 hold up, not looking good (not my opinion, just what all the news sources say). And I remember ‘93? Weren’t y’all only on radio that year w/no bowl game because of transgressions? Just sayin…so when is Auburn ever not “under the NCAA microscope or on probabtion”? I’m really not bitter at all, either. Y’all had a great team last year and deserved it “on the field”. Everyone’s questions are all about what happened “off the field” to gain advantages.

GTFan478

August 13th, 2011
5:03 pm

Wow some people are idiots. Clempsum to the sec makes no sense at all. What history do they even have to begin with. They have been a joke to the acc since FSU jpined up. They haven’t won a conference championship in over twenty years. On top of that USC has South Carolina on lock sec wide. And Va Tech to the sec is an even bigger joke. I doubt they would ever join up just because of academics. FSU would be the only choice out of the acc that would make sense. But like others have said UF has that state on lock so that’s a no go.

SC Ace

August 13th, 2011
5:04 pm

Hey Jeff, totally agree. Come on up to a Furman game and watch true student athletes play. Here in 1aa land, we even settle championships on the field!

longhorn state

August 13th, 2011
5:04 pm

TAMU is a medicore football program, but by joining the SEC they can get more revenue because the SEC has revenue sharing. So, the pie just got smaller for the SEC schools because they added an average at best football program. They could not compete in our conference how in the world are they going to compete with ARK, LSU,Ala.,Fla., and Auburn? So, they just got richer without getting any better. The TV market for TAMU football is overrated. Norte Dame and us have our own tv deals so we will be fine.

Marcus

August 13th, 2011
5:05 pm

These moves are surely about $$ but you might want to do a little more research on a school and its athletic program in its entirety prior to generalizing based on football alone. Men’s Basketball – one of longest current streaks of NCAA tournament appearances; Women’s Basketball – National Champs; Men’s Baseball – Advanced to CWS; Track and Field – Dominated men’s AND women’s for about 3 years now; Football – TBD but have only gotten better every year under Mike Sherman. A&M also is one of the best in public education and one of the elite research institutions in the world. There was one more announcement today though, what was it? Oh yeah, TX Governor Rick Perry, Aggie class of ‘72 is running for the President of The United States of America.

Schultz must be a CVS kinda guy…

Magnolia, Tx Dawg

August 13th, 2011
5:07 pm

I’m a ‘69 UGA grad and damn proud of it. Lived in Texas for a few years. It is all about Texas and the Dallas Cowboys. No other teams matter. Tuberville said that the Big 12 would not make it. He’s probably right. Academics, BAH. Show me the money, honey. College football is all about the money , and piss on the players. The Longhorns saw a way to make big bucks with their ESPN financed network. Can’t blame them. To hell with the league. It’s the American way.

Damon

August 13th, 2011
5:08 pm

“why the SEC wants A&M, because other than getting its toes into the state of Texas — assuming College Station counts — this is like a high-end mall expanding to add a Walgreens.”

Well, the Dallas and Houston TV markets are ranked in the top 10. That’s no Walgreens.

Just an FYI:
A&M finished 8th in the 2010-11 Directors Cup. Florida (#4) was the only SEC school in the top 15.

A&M would be 1 of 3 schools in the SEC that belong to the Association of American Universities (Florida and Vanderbilt being the other 2)

joe taxpayer

August 13th, 2011
5:08 pm

Longhorn state you did’t mention UGA.

Roswell Ed

August 13th, 2011
5:09 pm

Hey look, I’m a 4th generation AU guy and I want a straight program but no matter what I’m wearing the burnt orange and blue on Saturday. It’s no different than growing up in the ATL and being a Falcons fan even through the Smiths and the dog killer.
I’m like an old dog, loyal til the end.
WDE!!

Jeff Schultz

August 13th, 2011
5:09 pm

UGA ‘01 — Thanks. I understand why many fans are on the other side of this issue. But they’re thinking about the games and the power of the conference as opposed to the big picture, just like the aforementioned power brokers.

Jeff Schultz

August 13th, 2011
5:11 pm

Paul in NH –Like I said, comments are from fans. Fans are fans.