But, what I've seen leads me to have some ideas that I think would probably really improve college athletics - but would probably make the money behind it (TV networks, mostly) angry. So, I'm posting what I'd do if I were made "dictator" of the NCAA - i.e. I could set the rules, and make them stick without having to fight through a bunch of committees.
First, I'd put down a rule that says that after their current contracts expire, no head coach could be paid more than they would be paid as a full, tenured, professor or maybe a department chair, and that none of their assistants could be paid more than they would be as a lower level (assistant, or associate) professor. This would also need to extend through some of the support staff, like the trainers. I might also extend a rule that limits how much outside income a coach could receive preventing back door payments. A further follow-on might even limit buy-out clauses so that coaches could be fired easily.
Second, I would restructure the scholarship rules so that if a student athlete completes their eligibility without graduating, the school is obligated to give them the scholarship for one additional year. If the athlete doesn't remain enrolled, the school must still reserve the scholarship for that year. Essentially, all athletes would have an increased opportunity to complete school, and the school's sports program would be punished if athletes weren't completing their degrees.
Third, and apperopos to the current time of the year, I'd force a major change in the bowl games. I'd decertify the BCS completely. I'd also set a rule that all football games must be completed by the end of January 1st of the year following the competition year, except if January 1 is a Sunday in which case they must be completed by the end of January 2nd.
Then, I'd move some of the newer, "lower tier" bowls to an alternate-year status, so that any given sponsor and location would only have the game every other year. I would also require that each bowl, which would now all be fully independent events, have a contract with one or more conferences to place teams that finish in a specified place would go to that bowl game. In cases where games are only on alternate-years, they games would need to be paired so that the same slots are available each year.
The last related change would be to award an official championship to the team that completes the season, including bowl games, with the best weighted win-loss ratio. This ratio would be calculated as: ((wins against teams in the same - or higher - division) + (wins against lower division teams)/2) / (games played). This same weighted win-loss ratio will also play into my basketball changes below.
For basketball - and possibly for baseball and hockey which I see less about and may not have the same problems - I would change how the championship tournament is seeded. I'd cut it back to 64 teams - or possibly expand it to 128 teams, but that would probably make the first round unmanageable. Then the teams would be selected as follows:
- Conference champions
- The best weighted win-loss ratio among non-conference teams
- Regular season conference champions who lost in their tournament
- The best n weighted win-loss ratios among all teams in the division, where n is the number of remaining slots.
Again, the weighted ratio would be: ((wins against teams in the same - or higher - division) + (wins against lower division teams)/2) / (games played).
Then, the teams would be ordered by weighted win-loss ratio and then seeded into the 4 sub-brackets in that order. The sub-bracket any given team goes into would be based first on the geographically closest bracket (based on a pre-defined "center" of the 4 regions) that has a slot at the appropriate seeding. There would also be a move even if where that slot comes up the team would face a team from their own conference during the first 3 rounds. I don't have the statistics easily available to confirm that all teams would be able to be placed according to this last rule, but I'm reasonably sure that there shouldn't be more than eight teams from any conference would qualify under these rules.
I'm pretty sure that these changes would produce a more fair and competitive collegiate system, and would allow intercollegiate athletics to be a fun and, hopefully still, profitable sideline to the academic purposes of the colleges.