Power Five conference leaders are exploring the idea of staging their own championships for fall sports, a prominent Power Five athletic director confirmed to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. The talks were first reported by Sports Illustrated.
The discussion among the Power Five comes in anticipation of the NCAA Board of Governors possibly canceling or postponing fall sports championships in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Any decision the board makes would not directly impact FBS college football, which holds a championship (College Football Playoff) that is not sponsored by the NCAA.
The NCAA Board of Governors is scheduled to meet on Tuesday; at that time, it is expected to make a decision on how to proceed with fall sports championships this year. The NCAA is the governing body for all other fall sports championships.
Kicking around the idea of forming its own championships for all fall sports and not just football could be seen as a potential stepping stone toward the Power Five breaking away from the NCAA altogether.
While there are differing opinions amongst those leaders as to whether to take that step, CBS Sports has independently confirmed that the Power Five can afford to stage its own championships in those sports if it so chooses.
“If I were [NCAA president Mark] Emmert, I’d be really worried about it,” one Power Five AD told SI.
Another said that he felt the chances of Power Five holding its own fall championships are remote. He did go on to add that the fact it’s being considered is “representative of the poor relationship between the [NCAA] and our conferences.”
Of course, there’s another possible motivation for this information coming out.
A cynical observer might look at the Power Five conferences making this move as a way to justify playing football this fall. If all other sports have their championships canceled but football — the sport that generates the most revenue, by far — is played, it wouldn’t be hard to criticize schools for seeming to put money over the health and safety of players.
On the other hand, if all sports are taking place, schools could deflect such criticisms in a much easier manner. Another AD told SI as much: “We’re all trying to think, ‘Hey, what can we do for our kids so they have a season and a chance to compete for a championship? And, quite frankly, how can we justify playing football?'”