American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco realizes that if more conference realignment breaks out, his league will suffer more heavy losses.
And he said there's a plan already in place if that happens.
At the same time, Aresco's goal is to see the Power Five, a term for the elite leagues in Division I, become known instead as the Power Six in time. But for now he's watching and waiting for more adjustments college conferences must also endure.
In part two of his Q&A with FLORIDA TODAY, edited for brevity, Aresco addresses those issues and others.
Question: What did the Ed O'Bannon (anti-trust class action lawsuit win against the NCAA) do to college sports. (The case that the former UCLA basketball player won is on appeal seeking financial compensation for the NCAA's use of an athlete's image.)
Answer: We think the college experience is not a professional experience, therefore to pay players is wrong, that it just creates something totally different than what we've been trying to deal with . . . I'm not sure it will hold up on appeal. I think it was a broad decision, and I think it could well be overturned on appeal. But I think we were moving in this direction anyway, the notion of paying cost of attendance . . . The key for me is, what I don't want to do is I don't want the courts be a substitute for the good judgment of the NCAA and the institutions. I think they have more experience. I don't think courts are equipped to make these decisions.
Q: Does autonomy maybe give you a little more headaches at night than (the Ed O'Bannon decision).
A: I don't lose a lot of sleep over it. My bigger concern is the divide that has developed in college athletics and my conference is on the wrong side of it at the moment but we don't intend to be on the wrong side of it going forward . . . The issue for us is to be in the so-called power conversation. I don't like that term Power Five, I don't know where that came from. But because it's used so much we want to be in the conversation as the Power Six.
Q: How do you make it the Power Six instead of the Power Five.
A: I think it basically involves winning on the field and on the court. I think winning is the best marketing. I think you have to do three things. You have to win, I think you have to draw fans and develop TV ratings. So you fill your stands and you develop good TV ratings, something we've begun to do for sure. And finally you have to do the things (Power Five) conferences are doing. You have to pay cost of attendance, you have to do a lot of the things that they are doing for their student-athletes and if you meet all those markers then I think you will be perceived a certain way. And I think you know and I know that we're right in the middle.
Q: So you've got to be thinking that dreaded word which makes every commissioner a little uneasy. Expansion. It's never going to end is it.
A: Boy, how I hope it ends at some point. You know it's funny, I don't even think about it much any more. Look, if there's any more realignment down the road, whatever happens, happens. We have contingency plans. We know what we do in the event of more realignment. On the other hand I'm not really going to worry about it. There's nothing you can do about it, anyway. Do I think there's going to be more expansion around college conferences? Yes, I guess so. But it does seem that we've settled in now at this point with all these long term (TV) deals in place.
Dave Jones is a sports columnist at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DaveJonesSports.