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"Division IV" Isn't/Is Happening

Form and substance are different things.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are some important meetings happening in Indianapolis, and one of the things being discussed is whether the NCAA plans are pursuing something called "Division IV," a hyper-division for colleges that are interested in making dump truck loads of money off of athletics in the interest of "education" (and avoiding the onerous problems of taxing the revenue -- you know, like how a real business would be taxed). The ramifications of a "Division IV" on college lacrosse is unclear, and the meetings that took place in deep-fried-everything territory did nothing to alleviate the lack of lucidity surrounding the situation.

According to the Associated Press, the NCAA's board of directors heard from athletes, athletic directors, and conference commissioners today about restructuring the NCAA, and after all that, the issue has been punted to a seven-member committee to discuss whether "Division IV" -- that sounds like a rogue intergalactic pirate clan -- will exist at some point in the future:

After getting input from athletes, athletic directors and conference commissioners, among others, on how to restructure the NCAA, it is up to a seven-person committee to come up with proposals that can be presented to the entire membership in January.

Nathan Hatch, chair of the NCAA’s board of directors and president at Wake Forest, says there is a “strong, common view” that the board needs to be more nimble and more strategic. While no options are off the table, Hatch says there was “general agreement” during the two-day meeting to keep Division I intact.


Here's the deal: Whatever this committee decides isn't necessarily going to impact what dollar-sign-staring administrators do. As Jerry Hinnen at so eloquently writes:

Despite Hatch's and Burke's statements of unity, it was only a month ago that's Dennis Dodd reported that Division I's Faculty Athletics Representatives had offered a detailed proposal suggesting that the FBS "become a new separate division" with its own board of directors. A proposal from Division I ADs follows the model outlined by Hatch and Burke, in which larger schools have more of a say in their own reform process.

In the end, the difference may be mere semantics; if the wealthy schools can pass and follow their own rules without the consent of the rest of Division I, it might be a "Division 4" whether it carries an official designation to that effect or not. And which schools get the benefit of that "autonomy" and which don't would be every bit as big a source of headaches and controversy as the current BCS/non-BCS system has been.

College lacrosse, once again, is merely along for the ride and could ultimately bear a disproportionate level of impact in this entire situation. Good times.