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Mike Slive Rattles Saber Over Player Stipends

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The SEC commissioner is serious about giving players more money, and he might fight for a new NCAA division in order to enact them.

Kelly Lambert

Mike Slive had a question-and-answer session with reporters today, and one of the topics that came up was the proposed stipends for players. The NCAA decided to allow players to get stipends on top of their scholarships back in October of 2011, but enough individual member schools voted to override the proposal that it never got implemented. Nearly all of the schools that voted to override it came from outside the power conferences.

First, Slive made it clear that the stipend idea's initial failure was not a defeating blow. Then, he dropped the big one:

I've thought for a while now that at least another division split in football would be appropriate. It's farcical to suggest that Alabama and South Alabama or Michigan and Eastern Michigan belong in the same division.

It's not Slive's first choice to make a new division, and I can understand why. It would be very controversial to say the least, and it'd be a headache and a half to implement. I'm sure he's probably too burned out from negotiating with cable and satellite providers to want to try to take on that kind of challenge in the short term. The threat of splitting away is the biggest leverage that the power schools have over the mid-majors, though. The playoff is going to be a financial bonanza, and the major schools would better be able to lock out the mid-majors if a new split happened.

According to some ADs that SI's Andy Staples talked to recently, a split away from the NCAA is not imminent. The reason? It might cause the IRS to reassess whether the schools should have to pay taxes on athletics income. That alone is reason enough to stay within the NCAA's cozy confines, but a new division for the football big boys is a realistic threat. It will be interesting to see if the mid-majors capitulate on the stipend issue or whether they'll dig in and fight.