College Basketball: Scheduling Conflict

    
August 4th, 2006
SUMMARY: BILL REQUIRING ALL DIVISION I SCHOOLS IN MISSOURI TO PLAY EACH OTHER EVERY YEAR FAILS TO PASS STATE LEGISLATURE;

MAY BE RECONSIDERED IN 2007 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

 

The Missouri General Assembly considered a bill during its 2006 regular session that would have required all NCAA Division I schools in the state to play all other NCAA Division I school in all sports in which they field teams.  The bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Mark Wright (R-Greene County), read in full:

 

Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, every institution of higher education in this state that participates in any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I sport shall schedule at least one athletic contest a school year in each sport for which the institution participates at the NCAA Division I level with every other institution of higher education in this state that also participates in the same sport at the NCAA Division I level.

 

If the institutions of higher education subject to the provisions of this section cannot agree on the location of such athletic contests, the contest shall occur at the University of Missouri site in the first year and alternate sites every year thereafter. 

 

H.B. No. 1402, 93rd General Assembly, 2nd Regular Session (2006).

 

The bill died in committee when the General Assembly adjourned for 2006 in late May. 

               

A spokeswoman for Rep. Wright’s Jefferson City office stated he had introduced the legislation at the behest of “a group”, which she was unable to identify, and stated that she was not sure why Wright had introduced the bill. 

Rep. Wright will not be running for re-election to the General Assembly in 2006 because of term limits.  However, the spokeswoman stated that another, unidentified member of the General Assembly may introduce the same or a similar bill during the 2007 legislative session.  Numerous calls to Rep. Wright at his District and Jefferson City offices were unreturned.

 

If the law should pass the General Assembly in 2007, it could prove problematic—particularly for basketball and football—because of its vague wording. 

 

The bill fails to take into account the NCAA’s split of Division I into Division I-A and I-AA for football.  Although the University of Missouri is the only Division I-A football-playing institution in the state, Missouri State and Southeast Missouri State play at the Division I-AA level.  It is unclear from the wording of the bill whether they would be required to play each other every year.  As these schools do not play each other, it would require each school to use two non-conference games each season in order to comply with the proposed law.   Missouri plays football in the Big 12 Conference, Missouri State in the Gateway Football Conference, and Southeast Missouri State in the Ohio Valley Conference. 

 

In basketball, there are five NCAA Division I institutions in Missouri which compete in five different conferences:  the University of Missouri (Big 12), the University of Missouri at Kansas City (Mid-Continent), Missouri State (Missouri Valley), Saint Louis University (Atlantic-10), and Southeast Missouri State (Ohio Valley).  If it became law, the bill would, in effect, create through legislation a “Missouri 5 Conference” that would require each school to use four non-conference games every year. 

 

The vagueness of the bill’s requirement that any first contest between the schools be held at the University of Missouri—presumably the bill refers to the Columbia campus—if the schools cannot agree on a location, could lead to scheduling absurdities.  For example, if Missouri State and Southeast Missouri State simply refused to come to an agreement on where they would play their first football game under the bill, they would presumably be required to play it at the University of Missouri.  Similarly, it would seem that the University of Missouri would be required to host all ten basketball games among the schools during the first year under the bill if the schools could not agree where to play.

 

Because the Missouri General Assembly has adjourned for the year, the bill would have to be re-introduced during the General Assembly’s next regular session.  The General Assembly will begin its next regular legislative session in early January 2007.