jack swarbrickthe Athletics Director at the University of Notre Dame, recently told Sports Illustrated (SI) in an interview that he believes significant change is coming in NCAA Division I athletics within the next 10-15 years.
Swarbrick, the only AD currently a part of the College Football Playoff Management Committee, told SI’s pat forde that once contract obligations run out, many of the schools in the NCAA’s Power Five will look to disaffiliate themselves from their respective conferences.
News: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick tells @SInow NCAA DI breakup is “inevitable.” And targets mid-2030s as the timetable. Says there are “many” schools eager to change conferences now. Wide-ranging interview on the future of college sports: https://t.co/6W9N68hgkY
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) April 23, 2022
Swarbrick put a potential target date for this significant change to begin happening in the mid-2030s. The SEC’s current media rights deal runs through 2033-34, while the ACC’s goes through 2035-36. The Big Ten is currently in its negotiation window, with the Pac-12 and Big 12 up soon.
He mentions two potential avenues for schools to go down in the future: one where sports teams are tied to the school only by name, and another where they operate more closely under the current structure where the athletics teams are closely affiliated with the institution.
“There’s always been sort of a spectrum—and I want to stress that everything along the spectrum is valid; it’s not a criticism,” Swarbrick told SI. “On one end of the spectrum, you license the school name and run an independent business that’s engaged in sports. The other end of the spectrum, you’re integrated into the university in terms of decision making and requirements, and some follow that.
“I think both can produce great athletic competition. But it’s really hard to get there given the contractual obligations that already exist.
“Absent a national standard, which I don’t see coming, I think it’s inevitable,” Swarbrick said. “Mid-30s would be the logical time.”
The SI article notes that the SEC and Big Ten are expected to continue to distance themselves from the other Power Five conferences in terms of revenue, eventually causing things to crack.
“We’re going to have these two conferences that have so distanced themselves from anyone else financially,” Swarbrick said. “That’s where I see it starting to break down. There are so many schools trying to get out of their current conference, and they can’t get there.”
Read the full SI article here.
In a separate column in SporticoSyracuse University’s Rick Burton looks at this scenario, where some of the Power Five schools (or just the SEC and Big Ten) create a separate entity outside of the NCAA and start paying football and basketball players under a collective bargaining agreement.