Knight Commission eyes governance of CFP, money

As the College Football Playoff works toward completing a new lucrative media rights deal with ESPN, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics continues to push for a new governance structure for college football, along with changes to the sport's revenue distribution plan.

According to a lengthy statement from Knight Commission CEO Amy Privette Perko on Wednesday, if the CFP and ESPN ultimately agree to a deal worth the previously reported $1.3 billion, the CFP will generate more annual revenue -- roughly $700 million -- than the NCAA. The NCAA receives no money from FBS football, but the national organization and its member schools are financially responsible for catastrophic health insurance, rules enforcement, legal and other expenses.

Perko called CFP revenue "FBS football's exclusive and unrestricted revenue distribution plan."

"This impending CFP deal must lead to new governance and management of the sport of FBS football and of the biggest pot of money in the history of college sports," the statement read. "... Spending data provide overwhelming evidence that a new financial framework for managing CFP revenue is desperately needed."

According to the statement, the FBS conferences that control CFP revenue "don't require any CFP dollars to be earmarked for athlete education, health, and safety."

Perko also reiterated the Knight Commission's 2020 recommendation that FBS football should be governed by a new entity, separate from the NCAA and funded by CFP revenue. The proposal includes "a single leadership structure to couple authority of revenue administration with authority over rules administration."

The new structure calls for "meaningful football athlete representation," along with medical experts, former head coaches, former FBS football players and other independent voices.

The Knight Commission, which is a think tank that recommends changes but doesn't have the power to implement them, also suggested the CFP should annually reimburse the NCAA for all national costs related to FBS football. It added that FBS football should no longer be counted in the NCAA's revenue distribution formula because the NCAA doesn't operate the sport's postseason or receive any money from it.

"This change would allow more than $60 million in NCAA revenue distribution, currently tied to counting FBS football factors in the distribution formula, to be reallocated," the statement said.

Perko referenced the Knight Commission's educational model, first released in 2021, that prioritized athletes' education, health, safety, and programs that provide racial and gender equity as part of recommended systemic change in revenue distribution.

Perko said the changes would collectively "boost the importance of education and athletic opportunities" for athletes in all NCAA championship sports -- not just football.

"It is time for the CFP, and the FBS conferences and institutions that receive these revenues, to establish new measures of accountability," Perko wrote, "so that the $700 million in new, uncommitted revenue supports the core mission of college sports."