Big Ten, SEC Form Joint Advisory Group to Address Issues in College Sports

By Dan Hope on February 2, 2024 at 12:51 pm
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The two most powerful conferences in college sports are teaming up.

The Big Ten and SEC announced Friday that they are forming “a joint advisory group of university presidents, chancellors, and athletics directors to address the significant challenges facing college athletics and the opportunities for the betterment of the student-athlete experience.”

From the conferences’ release:

These challenges, including but not limited to recent court decisions, pending litigation, a patchwork of state laws, and complex governance proposals, compel the two conferences to take a leadership role in developing solutions for a sustainable future of college sports.
The advisory group will engage with other constituencies as necessary, including consultation with student-athletes and other key leadership groups from within both conferences.
“The Big Ten and the SEC have substantial investment in the NCAA and there is no question that the voices of our two conferences are integral to governance and other reform efforts,” said Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti. “We recognize the similarity in our circumstances, as well as the urgency to address the common challenges we face.”
“There are similar cultural and social impacts on our student-athletes, our institutions, and our communities because of the new collegiate athletics environment,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We do not have predetermined answers to the myriad questions facing us. We do not expect to agree on everything but enhancing interaction between our conferences will help to focus efforts on common sense solutions.”
The advisory group will have no authority to act independently and will only serve as a consulting body. Its composition, charter and timetable, as well as the specific questions it might examine, have yet to be determined.

The formation of the advisory group comes at a time when college sports are rapidly changing. The proliferation of NIL and the transfer portal have raised many concerns that need to be addressed by college athletics leaders, while expectations are growing that the college sports model will change sooner than later to allow athletes to be paid directly by schools.

“I support the leadership role that the Big Ten Conference and the Southeastern Conference are undertaking with the goal of improving our student-athlete experiences and also finding solutions to the challenges facing collegiate athletics today," Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. "I applaud Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey on their proactive partnership and leadership role that will address the issues and seek solutions within the current environment.”

Friday’s announcement comes less than two months after NCAA president Charlie Baker unveiled a proposal in which the NCAA would create a new subdivision for high-resource schools in which schools would directly compensate rules and would be able to create their own rules separate from the rest of Division I.

The creation of the joint advisory group also comes at a time when both the Big Ten and SEC are set to expand, setting them apart from the rest of the FBS as the two premier conferences in college sports. The Big Ten will expand to 18 teams with the additions of USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington later this year, while the SEC will expand to 16 teams with the impending additions of Texas and Oklahoma.

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