Jim Gazzolo column: FCS left to dangle on NCAA hook

Published 11:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

The NCAA and college sports major conferences have come together to try and solve one problem but might be creating a bigger one for smaller schools.

Looking to save themselves, the two groups came together last week to try and settle three antitrust lawsuits with former athletes looking for back pay before there was names, images and likeness.

The deal will go to a federal judge for approval, which could open the floodgates on even more of a mess when trying to control NIL dollars.

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Already fighting an uphill battle, the little guys will be asked to share the pain created by the NCAA’s inability to control its big programs and think ahead. Under the proposed agreement, the NCAA will pay $2.8 billion in damages. Some 59 percent will come from Division I teams and conferences.

The Power Four conferences will pay 24 percent, the Group of Five 10 percent, Football Championship Subdivision football school members get hit with 13 percent with the rest coming from non-football schools.

It will be a tough pill for all to swallow, especially the smaller schools from FCS that were hardly part of the problem. For them, it is a form of taxation without much representation.

Big schools will just pass the cost along to their TV partners or raise ticket prices to cover their portions. The FCS guys will have to do what they can and must. With the big-money games maybe going away, it could be a double whammy.

McNeese State is one of those schools. The Cowboys, like others their size, are still coming out of the COVID losses from a season that was erased.

Athletic Director Heath Schroyer said McNeese will try to make it work without cutting staff or sports. However, until things settle down, don’t look for McNeese to be adding any sports.

Not surprisingly, the NCAA is willing to throw those who had nothing to do with the problem under the bus. They have been in survival mode for years and haven’t been able to slow down their own demise.

This won’t solve the problem.

The NCAA has once again shown it is willing to do anything to hang out with the big guys. It makes sense when you consider that is their bread and butter.

We should be used to this by now. The NCAA has always been tougher on the smaller schools. It likes to show its power on those who can’t push back.

Remember when McNeese football was on academic probation but asked the NCAA for a little help after two hurricanes destroyed their program? The school asked the NCAA to lift its playoff ban early to give fans hope.

The NCAA said no.

It spanked the little guy for grabbing a candy bar while much bigger guys across the country were getting away with murder.

Now this.

Playing Robin Hood in reverse, the NCAA hopes the poor can help save the rich and maybe itself along the way.

Maybe we could buy it more if we believed there were FCS schools or conferences in on the settlement talks. After all, this wasn’t a problem they created or benefited from.

Yet now they too will pay the price.

Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at jimgazzolo@yahoo.com