Autonomy: Why “Power 3” Football Can Move On With 2020 Season

Some Clemson fans have found themselves trying to keep from getting confused as the summer has moved along. Understandable, seeing as two of the Power-5 conferences decided to “postpone” their football seasons, while the other three did not.

The Pac-12 and Big-10 are the two not playing, while the ACC, SEC, and Big-12 decided that they were going to continue pushing on towards a 2020 season.

Then you had the College Football Playoff Selection Committee announce that they were moving ahead as scheduled and then the NCAA announcement that they were canceling fall championships.

No wonder some are having a hard time deciphering all that information.

Naturally, many have been wondering how you can have a football playoff or even a season if the NCAA, who most think govern all of college sports and have the final say as to whether or not any sporting event in college can continue, says they are canceling every sport.

In 2014 the NCAA Division I Board of Directors passed a rule giving the five major conferences (ACC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12, and SEC) the authority to create some of their own legislation and voting rights for athletes. Those leagues are now referred to as the Power-5.

It was passed by a 16-2 vote and the NCAA then adopted the Division I model that had been released to its members a month prior to the vote. Then Division I Board Chairman Nathan Hatch said at the time that the vote “marks a significant step into a brighter future for Division I athletics.” It is now referred to as “autonomy” and is what separates the Power 5 from everyone else when it comes to college football.

Some have asked what “autonomy” means when it comes to the Power-5 conferences and how was it able to come about. Autonomy gives the ACC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12, and SEC the ability to create their own rules in certain areas to benefit college athletes. They even control the College Football Playoff.

Other conferences can adopt them too, if they want. This was implemented to make sure strong programs in those conferences, like the Clemson or Florida State football programs (for example), wouldn’t be put at a recruiting disadvantage, but would also ensure smaller schools, that couldn’t afford those benefits, didn’t have to pay them.

Leaders of the Power-5 conferences said they had the resources to provide more to athletes and tried for years but continued getting blocked by smaller schools. External pressure by lawsuits and Congress also forced the issue.

Also keep in mind that there are some rules that are passed by all of Division I that continue to stand outside of the autonomous structure. These include rules regarding scholarship limits, time demands, and athlete health.

This is why NCAA President Mark Emmert’s announcement that they were not going to be having fall sports championships did not rock the boat as far as the ACC, Big-12, and SEC continuing to move forward.

This road is still not completely paved or set in stone but the “Power 3” have decided to continue down this path, and to this point, make new history. A trek that some are loving while others are hating. Many are hoping for success and a full season of Clemson football and others are, well, hoping for the opposite….or at least it sure seems that way.

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