The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Controversy with NCAA conference realignment

Imagine yourself watching “SportsCenter” on ESPN, waiting on your favorite college basketball team to play an important conference game. You see the trademark Breaking News. The Atlantic Coast Conference has just announced that it voted to add Louisville to the conference next season.

Louisville is the latest Big East program to move to the ACC following Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame (non-football).

How do you react?

Face it, college sports are changing with big name conferences switching members. Even though conference realignment has been around since the beginning of college sports, the latest batch of schools switching conferences is due to different, controversial reasons.

“In general, realignment is misguided for two reasons,” said Robert Malekoff, associate professor of sport studies in an email interview.

“One: It will increase travel and missed class time for many students who participate on sports teams. Two: the primary reason most schools switch schools and conferences look to attract new members is in hopes of generating more revenue.

“The problem is that most schools tend to spend what they make (and in many cases, spend more than they make). Realignment promises even more focus on making money and less on an appropriate balance between athletics, academics and student life. Many schools will make more money, but, if history holds, they will also spend more money.”

Generating more revenue seems to be the prominent goal of most major programs, regardless of other problems.

“I believe it is bad for colleges and universities because (realignment) overemphasizes the importance of athletics at individual institutions,” said Dave Walters, sports information director, in an email interview.

On the other hand, Walters acknowledged that the realignment could enhance competition between teams. A strong basketball program in Syracuse can help the ACC, which only has about three strong teams competing for the conference title each year and for poorer colleges to have the opportunity to earn more revenue if they move to another conference.

According to the Washington Post, Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski recently commented on the upcoming shakeup on his radio show, even going so far as to say that (Maryland’s move to the Big Ten) will cause the Terrapins to be “outsiders.”

The future of the Big East is shaky at best. Four teams have been slated to move to the ACC and seven Catholic programs are planning to bolt from the conference to form a new one, causing the Big East to be in danger of losing its strong presence in college basketball.

“It’s not something I enjoy looking at,”  said Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino in a news conference in December. “Although we’re very pleased to be part of the Atlantic Coast Conference, I think what’s happened has been extremely disturbing.”

The Big East will try to make the best of a very crippling situation by holding the new members, including Boise State and San Diego State, in place. Although he faces daunting tasks ahead, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is optimistic about the future of the conference.

“We still have quality football and basketball schools,” Aresco told USA Today Sports in December. “And they are totally committed to making this league stronger and in helping us plan for the future.”

How do these changes affect alumni, students, coaches and players?

“(The programs moving) did not get public opinion from their alums, from the people there,” Krzyzewski said. “All these things are secret. It is not out there. Some of it gets leaked, but in Maryland’s case, it was never leaked.

“I am really worried about that type of thinking. Kevin White (Duke University Athletic Director) said that you get people who make these decisions who will be in those positions for a few more years, and then they go. They may not stay at that school. They are gonna go maybe to a school that they’ve been to before, or retire or whatever. They don’t have to live with that decision.

“This is an assault on tradition.”

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