In 2004, the late Myles Brand made the ridiculous claim that “College sports is not a business.” His old rival Bob Knight replied: “If it isn’t a business, then General Motors is a charity.”
Today, GM only continues to exist thanks to the charity of the American taxpayer, while College sports is bigger business than ever. It’s also a business which has some very odd quirks: namely, the absence of a clear national playoff to crown a single champion in one sport — Division I football — motivates all other elements of NCAA alignment. Though championships and playoffs exist in almost every other sport, being king of the hill in football revenue (more than wins) is the chief aim.
That’s what’s motivating the current push by the PAC-10, and it’s a wise move. Texas is a golden jewel of television revenue, and if Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott can achieve a 16-team conference which dominates the football scene west of the Mississippi, it could be the kind of move which redefines the future of the industry.
The AFL-NFL merger was a turning point for the business of professional football. This could be a similar moment for college sports.
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