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NCAA president Emmert doesn't mind expansion in moderation

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider

NEW YORK -- Ironically on the same day the Big East formally announced the addition of five new members, stretching the league literally from sea to shining sea, NCAA President Mark Emmert discussed college realignment this way:

"When making some of those decisions [on realignment], you have to take in mind, first and foremost, what does this do for our student-athletes flying coast to coast to play a ballgame," Emmert said Wednesday at the IMG Forum at the Marriott Marquis. "What does that mean for our traditional rivalries? What does it mean for our fan bases?

"I still believe -- and a lot of people disagree -- I still believe conferences are regional activities and that people know what the SEC is: it's the deep south of the United States. They know what the Pac 10-12 is: it's the West Coast of the United States. They have meaning. The Big 12 has meaning as part of the country that people know, the Big Ten. People look at sport as a regional activity, not a national one."

Emmert said "expansion is not inherently bad" and added he voted for the Pac-12 when he was president at Washington. "I'm not going to be hypocritical and say changes are bad, they're not."

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However, Emmert said how those changes have been made could have been done in a more civil and professional manner.

"What we did see this past year was a lot of movement that was scurrying about," Emmert said. "There was too much decision making without sufficient information. There were people that were engaging in behavior that were damaging relationships in serious ways.

"At the end of the day, colleges and conferences have to work collaboratively. You have a half-dozen ADs and presidents sit around the table and horse trade, talk to each other and do business and when you're blowing up conferences that really damages those relationships."

Emmert even suggested the conferences or schools might need a "cooling off” period before adding new members.

"No one should tell a university what conference they should be in," Emmert said. "I wouldn't mind a process that is slower, more rational, that allows a cooling off period. If a company tries to buy another company, you have to file SEC forms, you have to be very public about it and [make known] 'here's what we're thinking about.' When a team moves from one place to another in 48 hours, that has an unbelievable disruptive affect."

Emmert said he doesn't think college football is headed toward the super-conference or mega-conference models.

"I don't believe we're moving toward a handful of mega conferences just for the simple reason: I don't think it works," Emmert said. "You lose the regionalism. Why even have a conference?"

Why? That was exactly what Emmert's father asked him in the 1970s when the Pac-8 decided to add Arizona and Arizona State. Emmert grew up on the West Coast and his father was distraught over the news the Pac-8 was growing by two schools in the desert.

"I'll never forget my dad in the 1970s, at the time the Arizona schools were joining the Pac-8 to become the Pac-10," Emmert said. "My dad declared 'This is the end of the world as we know it.' [He thought] everyone had lost their minds. What part of the Pacific Ocean touches Arizona? They're not even in the same time zone for God sakes.

"[He thought] this truly would destroy college sports. Well, it worked out."


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