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Talk of 'super conference' gains steam

The SportsXchange

On a day when criminal allegations and suspensions grabbed headlines in collegiate and professional arenas, support for changing the face of college athletics was relegated to the back-burner.

And while support for a massive overhaul in the NCAA has been whispered for some time, it was during Monday's Big 12 media days in Dallas when the loudest and clearest salvo was heard.

The message: The landscape of college football and college athletics has been shifting and has yet to settle.

During his state of the conference address, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby suggested it's time to consider creating a new "federation" of schools.

"It's probably unrealistic to think that we can manage football and field hockey by the same set of rules," Bowlsby said. "I think some kind of reconfiguration of how we govern is in order."

Bowlsby acknowledged that he and his BCS conference peers support "transformative change" in college athletics. In other words, the five power conferences -- the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference -- should form a separate division.

"We've made it too easy to get into Division I and too easy to stay there," Bowlsby said. "Northern Iowa and Texas aren't much alike." He added that the commissioners of the five power conferences have "unanimity" on the subject.

The establishment of a new division -- "Division 4" -- could mean that non-BCS conferences (Conference USA, Mountain West, MAC, Sun Belt and American beginning in 2014) would no longer be relevant to major-college football, -- and some would say that already is the case.

ACC commissioner John Swofford echoed Bowlsby's belief, saying significant changes could come in January.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive alluded to similar changes recently, too.

One of the major points of contention between BCS conferences and their counterparts is the stipend issue.

The BCS schools favor paying players, but smaller schools that cannot afford to pay players have slowed legislation.
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