When you're new conference of schools who were left behind in the recent football-driven realignment in college sports and you're now facing being further marginalized by the power five conferences' reach for autonomy, the only way forward is clinging to those coattails.
That's just what American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco seems to have in mind.
Aresco said this week at the conference's spring meetings the AAC will adopt whatever reforms the power five decide on in the coming year, assuming the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are granted more autonomy when a vote on the matter comes in August.
"We're aligned with them," Aresco told USAToday. "We want to be like them. We think we're very close to them in terms of the issues. The issues they face are the issues we face."
That's probably music to the ears of SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who is making threats already.
We won't know if a collection of schools such as those in the AAC can truly afford to adopt all the reforms the power five do until there is more clarity on what the reforms are. The AAC might be the only conference outside the power five that can fully adopt that strategy. It is competitive in football and is home to the defending national champion in men's basketball giving it enough clout and earning potential to at least tread water in the fight to keep up.
But there are areas where Aresco differs with the power five. He is not convinced those 65 schools should be allowed to have a different set of transfer rules than the rest of Division I because he believes it could disrupt whatever competitive balance exists.
Public opinion seems to be moving toward more freedom of movement for student-athletes on whose backs the schools and conferences make money in the first place. In the end, this might be another area where Aresco and his presidents and coaches have to fall in line or fall behind.
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