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Jeff Kolpack, Published July 29 2013

Missouri Valley commissioner thinks FBS shakeup may be in the cards

FARGO – Not so fast Georgia Southern or Appalachian State. Or any other Football Championship Subdivision team that has declared or is thinking of moving to the next level of Division I football.

The commissioner of the Missouri Valley Football Conference said Monday it’s possible her league may see those teams again one day. It all depends on the direction of the top five Football Bowl Subdivision conferences and recent language from the commissioners of those leagues has Patty Viverito thinking FBS has a possible shakeup in its near future.

“They made it clear, the ‘big five’ commissioners are demanding some serious change in the NCAA governance in order to guarantee they can spend their vast resources as they wish,” she said. “The other five FBS commissioners are trying to appease their ‘big five’ brethren and do all they can do to keep a seat at the table.”

The “big five” represent the Big Ten, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Pac-12 and Big 12 conferences. They are what Viverito called “high resource universities.”

She made her state-of-division comments in the annual pre-season Missouri Valley Football Conference teleconference. Viverito cited a “FCS to FBS” NCAA analysis, which quoted two studies that found FCS schools that reclassified to FBS generated more revenue “but in most cases expenses increased by a larger amount than generated revenues.”

“Let me repeat that,” Viverito said. “All of the folks that say they’re moving to FBS because there’s more money … yes, there is more revenue but the expenses are going to outstrip any gained revenues on average by $1 to $2 million per year.”

If the top five FBS leagues do pull away, the future of the second level of Division I football, Viverito said, could include the bottom five FBS conferences and FCS schools.

The Missouri Valley has largely been unaffected by the FCS-to-FBS movement, with the exception of Western Kentucky a decade ago.

“If a line is drawn to separate the top FBS from the rest, the Valley teams should fare well in the next level of Division I football, however it’s defined,” Viverito said. “I think it’s pretty clear the top FBS conferences look very different from the bottom five FBS conferences and I think the top of the FCS looks a whole lot more like the bottom of the FBS than the ones I mentioned first.”

Those bottom five FBS leagues are the Sun Belt, Mid-American, Conference USA, Mountain West and American Athletic. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State will join the Sun Belt next year.

They both, however, are ineligible for the FCS playoffs this season because of the reclassification.

“I can’t imagine the bottom half of the FBS is going to go along with that kind of realignment without a fight,” Viverito said. “But I do think the five commissioners of those high resource conferences have made it very clear that they want to be able to spend their money and govern themselves in a way that is unencumbered by the rest of Division I. And I think we look a lot like those other five leagues.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia