NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Conference realignment talk is once again firing up and Old Dominion is right at the center of the current discussions.
CBS Sports reported that a regional realignment proposal was presented to Conference USA presidents on Monday, the league which Old Dominion currently calls home. The pitch involves regionalizing Conference USA, the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference, as the three would work together to form new leagues based on states and regions.
Old Dominion director of athletics Wood Selig is a proponent of the regional realignment. He says that conference need to stop doing what's always been done- losing teams to other leagues and then plucking programs from elsewhere to replace them, creating a domino effect.
"We keep perpetuating the same insanity of what's going on in college athletics," Selig said on Tuesday
The head Monarch noted that Conference USA, the AAC and the Sun Belt occupy the same footprint, which spans from the Mid-Atlantic to Texas to Florida. Power Five conferences may overlap slightly, but do not occupy the same footprints. Selig points to the MAC as an example of what the new proposal has in mind, calling it a "Big Ten Light," running college athletics the way it was intended to be run (reasonably priced, reasonable pay) and fitting into the Big Ten footprint.
"The AAC, Conference USA and the Sun Belt I think need to talk regionalization and we need an ACC-Light, a SEC-Light and we need a Big 12-Light," Selig said. "With those 36 schools approximately in those three conferences, you could come up with three 12-team, roughly, members and it would occupy the perfect footprint that the Mid American Conference occupies to the Big Ten."
Saving on travel costs, less missed class time for student-athletes, creating more regional rivalries and getting more fans in the stands are all reasons the ODU athletic director pointed to as pros for the new proposal.
"The TV dollars are not going to be there anymore," Selig went on to say. "They're going to be there for the ACC, for the SEC, but for the rest there are not going to be deep TV coffers to access. We've got to focus less on where we are going to generate revenue from TV, but more on where we are going to save expenses on travel and do what's right for our student-athletes as well as the fans because the fans represent our financial future in the form of donations and season ticket sales."
It's a plan that involves drastic changes for three conferences. The CBS Sports report noted that neither the AAC nor the Sun Belt are particularly interested in going the route that Conference USA will propose at this time. Selig hopes that more key players will take a closer look.
"I don't think anyone's spent long enough looking at it to really realize how beneficial it would be for the future sustainability of so many schools within Division I intercollegiate athletics."
Selig confirmed that former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg have been hired by Conference USA to assist with proposals and help pitch them to the other two leagues.
"So many people are afraid to hit the pause button because we're all on that hamster wheel running so fast and afraid of what's going to happen if we don't respond or react quickly," he said. "The real challenge is going to [be getting] enough people, presidents, athletic directors, commissioners, to say 'let's pause, let's let this concept play out a little bit on paper and see if it doesn't make sense.'"