LINCOLN — University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman was a defender of college football's previous postseason, the Bowl Championship Series.
As chairman of the BCS presidential oversight committee, Perlman is now switching gears to the new, plainly named College Football Playoff. He said the name and logo of the four-team event won't matter as much as what's still to come: how those four teams are selected and who selects them.
“The major issue is going to be the composition of the committee,” said Perlman, who believes committee members shouldn't currently be connected to college football teams. He said in his opinion, ex-coaches and ex-players would be preferred. The NCAA basketball tournament committee is made up of current conference commissioners and athletic directors.
“You have to make the football committee one step removed from existing A.D.s,” Perlman said.
As previously discussed, Perlman said, look for strength of schedule to factor into the committee's selection process. Perlman said “conference championships should matter.”
Other college sports topics discussed by Perlman:
»Whether generated by its own mistakes or the media, Perlman said the NCAA “has a rather difficult public relations problem” that “raises legitimate questions about the efficiency of the organization.”
In recent months, the governing body has had to admit ethical mistakes in its long investigation into potential violations at Miami (Fla.). Also, widespread changes made by a rules group to football recruiting regulations were panned by coaches. The NCAA has now tabled most of those changes and promised a review of them. Third, the state of Pennsylvania has sued the NCAA to overturn some of the penalties levied in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.
Perlman points to another area of concern: that when some NCAA members attempted in 2011 to pass a cost-of-living stipend of $2,000 for college athletes, some schools couldn't afford it for all of their athletes — thus raising concerns about Title IX compliance. Those schools objected, overrode and effectively killed the proposal. In March, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the NCAA will reintroduce the plan to the Division I Board of Directors in October, potentially with a need-based component built in.
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Schools with larger athletic budgets in major conferences, like Nebraska in the Big Ten, “continue to be frustrated in their efforts to do more for the student-athlete,” Perlman said. The money that Perlman and others would like to apply to college athletes instead gets pumped into “coaches' salaries and fancy practice facilities.”
“We need to realize that some of us are on a different tier of competition,” Perlman said.
Perlman did not say he was in favor of a new division, necessarily, or a completely different governing body for schools that can afford stipends for all their athletes.
In a meeting Monday with the Alabama Associated Press Sports Editors, SEC commissioner Mike Slive openly suggested the idea of a new division within the NCAA.
“When there are certain things that many of us would like to come into play, it's our hope that those things can all occur in the current system,” Slive said, according to AL.com. “Obviously, if things like that don't get accomplished, then it may be appropriate to talk about some alternative or division or something like that.”
»Perlman said the implications from the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit, in which a former UCLA basketball player and other plaintiffs seek damages from EA Sports, the NCAA and member schools for money made off athletes in video games and TV contracts, are “overblown” and not likely to be as far-reaching as feared.
But, as a lawyer himself, Perlman said he always reserves the right to be surprised by a ruling.
“The law is more of an art than a science,” Perlman said.
The lawsuit argues for 50 percent of revenues made off of TV contracts to be diverted to former and current athletes. Even if the NCAA were to lose, it is not likely that it would accept any monetary decision below a circuit appellate court, perhaps even the Supreme Court.
In a recent statement filed in support of the NCAA, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said league schools may prefer a Division III model to the “pay-for-play” model that could prevail if the O'Bannon plaintiffs win. Schools in Division III don't offer athletic scholarships, instead offering need-based or academic scholarships.
Perlman said he couldn't guarantee Nebraska would embrace such a view if it ever came to pass.
“I'm a realist,” Perlman said. “We may have a fan base that has something to say about that.”
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