Big Ten, SEC Forming Joint Advisory Group

NEW YORK (AP) — The Big Ten and Southeastern Conference are formally trying to find solutions to the issues facing college sports.

The two wealthiest and most-powerful college conferences announced Friday the formation of a joint advisory group of university leaders and athletic directors. The group’s members and what exactly it will be tasked to examine are still to be determined.

The enterprise of big-time college sports is struggling to adapt quickly under constant legal and political pressures. The NCAA is facing at least five antitrust lawsuits challenging its authority to govern college sports, from how athletes can be compensated to transfer and recruiting rules.

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In some of those lawsuits, the SEC, Big Ten and other power conferences are also named defendants.

“The Big Ten and the SEC have substantial investment in the NCAA and there is no question that the voices of our two conferences are integral to governance and other reform efforts,” Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti said. “We recognize the similarity in our circumstances, as well as the urgency to address the common challenges we face.”

Petitti and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, along with Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips and Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark, met last week with NCAA President Charlie Baker to discuss an array of topics, including Baker’s proposal for a new subdivision of Division I.

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College sports leaders have been lobbying Congress, both independently and jointly, for help as the billion-dollar industry of big-time college sports struggles to transition from an outdated amateurism model.

The SEC and Big Ten, fueled by massive media rights deals, are in the process of separating financially from their peer conferences at the top of college sports.

“There are similar cultural and social impacts on our student-athletes, our institutions, and our communities because of the new collegiate athletics environment,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We do not have predetermined answers to the myriad questions facing us. We do not expect to agree on everything but enhancing interaction between our conferences will help to focus efforts on common sense solutions.”

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In a news release, the conferences said the group will have no authority to act independently and only serve as a consultant.

By Associated Press writer Ralph D. Russo

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