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April Fools' 2012: SEC To Leave NCAA
Posted Apr 1, 2012

CFN EXCLUSIVE ... In a groundbreaking and bold move, the SEC will add six more schools to expand to 20 teams for football only, and then will form it's own self-contained league complete with its own playoffs.



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College athletics as we all know it are now over.

In a shocking move that’ll change the college football landscape, CFN has just confirmed from several sources that the SEC will not only take expansion and realignment to another level, but it’ll make one of the biggest and boldest moves in American sports history by seceding from the NCAA and forming its own self-contained league for football only starting in 2014. The official announcement is scheduled to come sometime later this week, with the SEC choosing to wait a few days until after the basketball national championship.

The SEC will expand to 20 schools, adding Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech, and, most stunningly, Notre Dame, for football only.

The league will have four divisions of five teams with the four winners squaring off in a four-team playoff in late December. Because of the new format, the 20 teams in the new SEC won’t play games outside the conference, with the lone exception being made for Notre Dame, who’ll be allowed to play an extra exhibition game against USC over the next five seasons.

The plans have been in the works for several years, and with the addition of Notre Dame, along with the five schools from the ACC, the time appeared to be right to take the bold step forward.

“Notre Dame was the key to the entire plan,” said one high-ranking SEC official, who asked not to be named for this story. “Once Notre Dame said it was interested, then the idea of forming our own self-contained league became a reality. That meant we were going to be national, and then we realized that we didn’t need to be a part of the NCAA structure anymore.”

The original plan was to bring in the natural rivalry tie-ins – Clemson for South Carolina, Georgia Tech for Georgia, and Florida State for Florida, with Virginia Tech and Miami added to the mix –with North Carolina to round the league out as the 20th school. However, there was an internal debate among North Carolina officials about how the move might affect the basketball program, delaying the process for a few weeks. During the time of hesitation, the SEC and Notre Dame were able to come to an agreement, and the SEC withdrew its offer to UNC. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be room to add more teams in the future.

“This might just be a first step,” said another SEC administrator, who also asked not to be named. “I can see us getting to a 32-team, NFL-like format at some point.”

Notre Dame officials wouldn’t make an on-the-record comment, but one source inside the university told CFN that the deal was too good to pass up.

“We’ve been waiting for the right opportunity. Notre Dame is a worldwide university with a national and worldwide following for our football program. This allows us to achieve all of our goals and be a part of something special.”

To get Notre Dame, though, the SEC had to allow the school to keep all of the television revenue for the next five seasons with the rights to the home games – and the date with USC - belonging to NBC. After five years, and for all road games and playoffs starting in 2014, the Irish will be a part of the revenue-splitting plan that’ll be finalized after the television rights have been secured.

With a clause in the television agreement with ESPN that allows the SEC to renegotiate if the league expands – which it was about to do after adding Texas A&M and Missouri – now it’s open season for the bidding war to start with the initial jumping off point expected to start around $7.5 billion for a five-year agreement, but with the hopes of securing a ten-year deal across a several networks and internet platforms.

By doing this, the SEC will formally and officially break ties with the NCAA for football and will form its own rules and regulations, it’s own schedules, and it’s own format. Some of the key highlights of the changes will be:

- Relaxed recruiting rules. The new SEC, free from the NCAA rules and regulations, will allow players to have agents, do endorsement deals, and take gifts and cash from boosters, marketing companies, and anyone else who wants to pay the prospects. However, the schools and universities will be forbidden to pay for players beyond a scholarship and stipend.

“Even though we’re not going to be a part of the NCAA,” said the high-ranking SEC official, “there are still Title IX considerations to factor in, and the last thing we want to do in this economy and with educational budgets being slashed is to allow the schools to divert any funds for football. So we’re not going to put that pressure on the universities and we’re going to make it one of our few hard restrictions: no money can be paid by the schools to the players. To be honest, all we’re doing is taking what’s already happening and taking the hypocrisy out of it.”

- The divisions will be aligned as follows:

SEC North: Clemson, Kentucky, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Virginia Tech
SEC East: Florida, Florida State, Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech
SEC South: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State
SEC West: Arkansas, Missouri, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

“We wanted to keep the natural rivalries together as much as possible, while trying to respect the traditions and the geographic tie-ins,” said the SEC official. “There will only be four divisional games, so just because, say, Alabama and Tennessee aren’t in the same division, that doesn’t mean they won’t play each other.”

- Unlike the NFL with two games against each divisional foe, there will be only one game played against each team in the division and eight other games played outside of the division.

- All coaches will be required to wear visors to be used and thrown in lieu of a challenge flag for replays.

- Before every game, fans in all stadiums will be asked to stand, remove their caps, and recite the Tim Tebow "Promise" speech.

- At halftime of every game, a hat will be passed around the stadium to raise money for the Cecil Newton Church Renovation Fund.

- The record books will reflect that Peyton Manning won the 1997 Heisman Trophy.

- Proper attire will be required to attend the games. All women must dress as if they're going to an Ole Miss tailgating party.

- After every Auburn win, fans will be allowed to tp the opposing head coach.

- At Mississippi State, the fans will be required to use more cowbell.

CFN has also exclusively learned that Les Miles would like to thank you very much and have a great APRIL FOOL'S DAY.

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