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A League Apart?
Ending The Illusion
I saw an article in USA Today that mentioned a few of the Bowl Championship Series conferences, and Notre Dame have taken a look at breaking away from the NCAA and forming a new, basically football-only division.
This brought up an idea I have had for a few years now. It usually takes a scandal involving a program and the conduct of their boosters for the idea to rear its head, but this idea got me to thinking that it may be a way to implement a true minor league system for the National Football League.
Many fans of the college game will agree that with a few exceptions, the top-tier programs like Ohio State, Oklahoma, University of Southern Californian, etc are basically feeder teams for the NFL. The players, many in recent years from more and more urban areas, are going to school not to get an education, but to get on the radar of a pro team. The NCAA has been fighting a losing battle, in the eyes of many, to preserve the notion of a student-athlete.
This division, likely consisting of 60-80 teams, would be a way for the NCAA to surrender honorably. High school seniors would still sign with these programs as they do now, but there would be a few differences.
The main one is that the students would not be required to carry a full course load, they would at least have to enroll part-time. As has been showed time and time, any player is only one play away from their career being over, having a career to fall back would be most valuable.
A second difference is that the players would be paid a living allowance by the NFL. The players would be employees of the NFL, but not bound to any team. After three years, the students could declare for the League's draft. At any time a player could leave and enroll at a school outside this elite divison and be immediately eligible.
The idea of the major programs breaking away may have a lot to do with them believing that their demands are not being met by the NCAA, or that they are tired of subsidizing the NCAA. Taking their ball and leaving may be a good idea. The fact that many of these programs are also basically a minor league for the National Basketball Association might help solve that issue as well, the NBA could easily subsidize the basketball teams of these schools.