Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany quelled fears Sunday that Power Five schools might seek to increase the number of college basketball scholarships they can offer in order to increase their competitive advantage over non-power conferences. Delany told USA Today a change in the number of scholarships afforded to Power Five schools is not being considered, and that the subject isn't a topic of autonomy.
More from Delany:
"I don't think any of us thought that the number of scholarships should be in an autonomy area, with one exception," Delany said. "The exception would be if either by a court decree or because we went to some form of freshmen ineligibility, there would have to be flexibility in the number of scholarships in any sport affected by that. Short of that, I tend to agree. I think the numbers are where they ought to be. That's not why we went down this road. That has a direct bearing on competitive balance."
Delany's comments follow remarks from non-power conference commissioners and NCAA officials expressing concern that an increased number of Power Five scholarships would jeopardize competitive balance within NCAA Division I basketball, a sport that often thrives on the thrill of unexpected upsets by low- or mid-major teams. USA Today notes NCAA Executive Vice President for Men's Basketball Championships Dan Gavitt said earlier this year he feared more scholarships at high-major schools would mean "kids who would otherwise be at mid-major, low-major programs, are now kind of pining away on the bench at a major program."
The Big East Conference, formerly of the old Power Six bloc of conferences, echoed Gavitt's statements, writing that "team scholarship limits should remain permanently in shared governance category."
As it stands now, every men's team playing Division I college basketball is allowed to offer 13 scholarships. At least for now, it appears the North Carolinas and Kentuckys of the college basketball world will be constrained to offering the same quantities of scholarships as the North Texases and Kent States.
- Will Green