SEC and Big Ten form advisory group to address ‘significant challenges’ in college sports

The Big Ten and the SEC are forming a joint advisory group to address “significant challenges” in college sports, the conferences announced Friday.

The creation of the group, which will feature university presidents, chancellors and athletic directors, showcases the growing connection between the conferences. The SEC and Big Ten aim to improve  “the student-athlete experience” with the work of the group.

“The Big Ten and the SEC have substantial investment in the NCAA and there is no question that the voices of our two conferences are integral to governance and other reform efforts,” Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti said in a news release. “We recognize the similarity in our circumstances, as well as the urgency to address the common challenges we face.” 

The advisory group will not have the ability to act independently but will serve as a consultant for the conferences.

“There are similar cultural and social impacts on our student-athletes, our institutions, and our communities because of the new collegiate athletics environment,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a news release. “We do not have predetermined answers to the myriad questions facing us. We do not expect to agree on everything but enhancing interaction between our conferences will help to focus efforts on common sense solutions.”

The move mirrors another recent joining of forces that in college athletics, as the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 formed an alliance in 2021 to support each other in navigating a shifting landscape in college athletics.

Conference realignment continues to shake up that landscape, but the Big Ten and SEC remain the most dominant conferences, which their new partnership underlines.

The announcement of the advisory group comes roughly two months after NCAA president Charlie Baker revealed a proposal under which the NCAA would create a new subdivision for high-resource schools. Programs in the athletic subdivision would be able to deliver direct compensation to athletes and and create rules for themselves apart from the rest of Division I.

The joint SEC-Big Ten venture shows how the “Wild West” of college sports continues to evolve in the NIL and transfer portal era, with much still left to be determined.

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