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Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson seemed non-plussed by Thursday's news that the "Power Five" conferences composed of the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12, plus Notre Dame, will be allowed autonomy within Division I.

The change will allow these conferences to write their own legislation regarding many financially based key areas, including stipends, travel allowances, staff sizes and cost-of-attendance stipends.

It's not clear exactly how or if the change will affect other conferences that don't have the same revenues as those in the "Power Five," but do play FBS football, such as the Sun Belt, which is Georgia State's home, or those that don't, such as the Atlantic Sun, home of Kennesaw State. The Owls will play football on the FCS level in the Big South.

"Today's vote by the NCAA board of directors is historic, but our universities have understood for some time that there will more than likely be an increase in the cost of operating their athletic programs," Benson said. "There will be challenges, but Sun Belt universities have invested too much not to be part of major college sports in the future."

Georgia State interim athletic director Bharath Parthasarathy issued a similar statement that is as vague because it's too early to tell how Thursday's decision could impact the remaining FBS conferences: the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt, now being dubbed the "Group of Five."

"Georgia State values the role that athletics plays as part of the larger educational experience, and Georgia State is committed to ensuring a positive experience for our student-athletes," Parthasarathy said. "As the current landscape of college athletics continues to change, Georgia State will continue investing in and supporting our student-athletes as we move forward as proud FBS members."

There is a scenario that could negatively affect Georgia State's finances, as well as any school that participates in pay-for-play football games.

ESPN surveyed 65 football coaches in the "Power Five" conferences (plus Notre Dame) and 30 said they would prefer to play only other "Power Five" teams in non-conference games. Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson and Georgia's Mark Richt were two of the 23 coaches who didn't like the idea, and 12 were undecided. This was just a survey and not something that is being considered by the schools.

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But if the idea were to be implemented, playing only other "Power Five" teams would rob schools such as Georgia State of the million-dollar checks they receive in exchange.

For example, the Panthers announced Thursday that they would play N.C. State, a member of the ACC, in 2018 for $925,000. It is one of several games the school has lined up to help balance its athletic budget. The Panthers will play at Oregon in exchange for $900,000 next year, at Wisconsin for $1.2 million in 2016 and at Penn State for $1.2 million in 2017. It will play at Washington and at Clemson this year for a total of $1.6 million.

August 8, 2014

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