The Pac-12 announced a series of smart policy decisions Monday resulting from the annual spring gathering of its presidents and chancellors.
The issue of greatest significance, however, was not addressed: A press release summarizing the developments made no mention of a potential equity in the conference’s media rights. That matter is expected to unfold over the coming weeks and months.
As expected, the conference announced it will implement minimum standards for non-conference basketball schedules beginning in 2020-21:
“The approved new non-conference scheduling standards include the following elements:
“(i) a non-Conference five-year trailing average of opponents’ NET ranking must be 175 or less,
“(ii) no participation in road buy games,
“(iii) no regular season games against non-Division I opponents and
“(iv) no road games versus a non-conference opponent with a five-year trailing average of 200 NET.
It’s a much-needed move that’s central to a larger strategic plan designed to improve the basketball product and send more teams to the NCAA tournament.
The change will force several programs to reduce the number of cupcakes played each November and December.
Non-conference games account for roughly one-third of each team’s schedule and are integral to shaping the power ratings for individual teams and the collective.
Victories over opponents in the bottom half of Division I provide no benefit to the Pac-12 in the NCAA tournament selection process, while losses hurt the defeated team’s resume and undermine the entire conference.
The Pac-12 hinted the non-conference standards were coming last month when it announced the move to a 20-game conference schedule (starting with the 2020-21 season). The coaches and athletic directors have signed off on the plan.
The conference also announced Monday that it would extend the Student Athlete Health and Well-Being Initiative for five years at the current investment level of $3.6 million annually. The portion of the funding for mental health services on campus has been extended to $1.1 million.
The conference will make it a little easier on athletes who wish to transfer within the Pac-12. While athletes still have to follow the NCAA rule requiring a year of residency before playing, it won’t cost a year of eligibility. Athletes can count the first year of the transfer as a redshirt season.
The decision is “designed to provide student-athletes with a similar experience to any other student who decides to transfer.”