Forget expansion — it’s time for full-blown conference realignment

It all starts with leaving the NCAA.
The NCAA began with the noblest intentions, but it has grown into a bloated beast of an organization that routinely does harm even when it tries to do good. Plus, if you’re in charge of an athletic department that brings in more than $40 million a year in revenue, you don’t appreciate the NCAA’s pesky habit of distributing money you played a larger role earning to programs straining to keep their noses above the poverty line. You also probably don’t appreciate the president, Congress and the Justice Department telling you how to run the postseason in your most lucrative sport.
So tell them all to go fly a kite.
Use whatever number and organizational structure you want, but it seems most sensible to take the 64 highest earning athletic programs and split them into four regional, 16-team superconferences. Play all the sports you’ve been playing, but keep the competition within those 64 programs and let the remaining NCAA teams play one another. There’s a ton of money in postseason men’s basketball, and you’ll need plenty of women’s sports to keep you Title IX compliant. Plus, the non-revenue sports make great tax write-offs, which you’ll need now that you no longer enjoy the NCAA’s tax-exempt status. (Sorry about that, but you’ll still come out ahead.)
Form your own governing body and write whatever rules you want. You can call the new group whatever you want. I suggest the Collegiate Athletic Select Hegemony.

SI.com
2/19/10