The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

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The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

Opinion: A Change in College Sports

The benefits of conference re-alignment are obvious, but the damage remains unknown for now.
“File:Sun Devil Stadium – Pac12 Championship.jpg” by Clintus McGintus is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
The Arizona State Sun Devils are set to join the Big 12 Conference in 2024.

College sports have changed dramatically. Universities are doing what is best for making money and not what is best for their student-athletes. With the recent conference realignment, particularly the dissolution of the PAC 12, one of the five major athletic conferences that contains flagship institutions and universities on the Pacific coast, the landscape of college athletics has forever changed. Universities on the west coast are moving their athletic programs to regularly compete against programs on the Atlantic coast and in the Midwest, putting the wellness of their athletes into question. However, there are some benefits to some programs and universities overall.

Who does conference realignment benefit? 

Conference realignment benefits the smaller programs making the move into more competitive and nationally viewed play. For example, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF, and BYU, who all made the move up to the Big 12 this year, and SMU, who will move to the ACC next year, will all be making more money in these conferences, improving their athletic programs and increasing the amount of applicants to their universities. More applicants will increase the standard both academically and athletically at these schools.

The realignment has also benefited the SouthEastern Conference (SEC) with the addition of two enormous brands in Texas and Oklahoma. The SEC has seemingly had no negative impact on accepting these two universities, as it keeps the conference regional and not national.

Finally, the already established members of the Big Ten benefit from the conference realignment. The Big Ten adds UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington in 2024, making the conference span nationally from basically New York City to Los Angeles. Programs like Rutgers and Northwestern, who are not major brands and do not produce much success athletically, are seriously benefitting from the coast-to-coast expansion that will bring larger viewership to their athletics.  Smaller universities benefit from the addition of universities with enormous fanbases and historical success.

Who does conference realignment harm?

The most obvious answer is the PAC 12. The conference is in ruins after the last few months, only being left with Oregon State University and Washington State University. Both of these universities’ athletics are in question. They have no set schedule for any of their sports and it is very unlikely that their games are going to be televised regularly. Athletes from these two universities do not deserve to be in the state they are currently in. They have proven in high school that they deserve to compete on the same level as the rest of the athletes who left the PAC 12.

Although these universities are negatively impacted more than the rest, the other former PAC 12 universities are putting money ahead of their athletes. For example, an athlete playing soccer for the University of Southern California in 2024 is not only going to have to travel thousands of miles across the country to play in the Big Ten but also keep up with school work at a prestigious university.

The recent events have also impacted the ACC. The Atlantic Coast Conference has recently accepted the University of California, Stanford University, and Southern Methodist University in 2024. However, the vote from established ACC members was not unanimous. Florida State University, Clemson University, and the University of North Carolina all denied the entry of these three universities, creating turmoil within the conference, essentially confirming that these three universities are seeking to leave the conference to join the SEC or Big Ten. The reasoning behind this is that both of those conferences make significantly more money than the ACC. All of this creates a giant question mark for the conference when the media deal expires in 2036. Until then, all three universities are contractually bound to the ACC.

The reality today is that college sports is a business, and a business’s primary goal is to profit. The benefits of conference realignment are solely monetary, and the harm is on the athletes and the staff who strive to help them succeed.

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About the Contributor
Thomas Thirkell
Thomas Thirkell, Staff Writer
Thomas Thirkell is a senior at NASH who loves watching college football and playing chess.

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