Realignment: the sword that could change everything

If the plaintiffs win, there is concern among the Power Five that a Wild West culture could take hold. The last time conferences oversaw athlete compensation was 1956 before the advent of TV, rights fees, agents and riches from the NFL and NBA.

Part of the concern is that Power Five leagues flush with cash might not be able to help themselves.

“It’s harder than ever to defend [the current NCAA model],” said Tim Nevius, a former NCAA enforcement officer currently in private practice in New York.

Fearing what would amount to an open marketplace, a handful of conferences have notified officials within their leagues not to discuss the case outside their conferences for fear of collusion accusations. If conferences shared information on how to compensate athletes, that in itself could be interpreted as a way to cap scholarship benefits. That fear of collusion is based in part on rival league administrators even speaking casually about the outcome of the case.

Example: If the plaintiffs win, as expected, the SEC could theoretically compensate athletes with cars. Meanwhile, another league could offer … better cars or apartments or …