Eric Russell

ACC Athletes' Lack Of Interest Highlights Autonomy Woes

Created on Jul. 22, 2014 5:58 AM EST

When asked if he had any ideas about how the NCAA should go about changing the governance structure, Tony Creecy shrugged.

"No. I don't have any ideas,” the North Carolina State running back said. “Who am I?"

Then he gave a smirk, which turned into a laugh. The reporter replied back, "Hey, you're a leader. You're allowed to have ideas." Then in a simple statement Creecy unleashed what many have long considered the biggest sign that change is needed: the feeling of nothingness the NCAA has left student-athletes with.

"Not to the NCAA," replied Creecy.

The senior, like many of the athletes on hand at the ACC Kickoff on Sunday, admitted he hasn't been following the NCAA's attempt to change the governance structure closely. Regardless of their ulterior motives, the power brokers of college football are right. The time for change has come.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said so last week, the Pac-12 sent out letters about it earlier in the year and ACC Commissioner John Swofford reminded us on Sunday during the ACC Kickoff.

"The good ship status quo has sailed, and it's time for some changes and some significant changes," Swofford said. "It's going to present some challenges. But it's time for that, and those are the right kinds of things to do and to address."

The ACC student-athletes did their part by reminding us of that on Sunday. Although, it wasn't in the way you'd expect.

Change is the name of the game, and the steering committee's proposal means big things for the NCAA if passed. I'll spare you all of the tedious details and autonomy talk — which I will get to in a later post — and get to the heart of this post. The students could come out as winners (as much of a winner as they can at this point at least). The student-athletes could get help with the cost of going to school. Perhaps even more important, they can have a voice in the way things work. It's a big deal, but at ACC Media Days, not many of the student-athletes on hand seemed to care.

Granted many were upper classmen who will not reap much benefit from the changes. I get that opinion from those who intimated as much. I personally would still be interested. However, I'm also not actually a Division I athlete nor have I ever been, so I won't pretend to know about what their thought process. I can only go off of what their answers were. More often than not, they weren't the replies of concerned student athletes following the on-goings closely during the offseason.

"I have one more year, so if they don't change anything its fine. I've done the same thing for the past three years," Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt said. "If they change it after I'm gone, cool. The NCAA has been good to me... If there's changes, there's changes. If there's not, there's not"

Boston College's Dominique Williams doesn't spend his time thinking about it. He said he tries not to familiarize himself with it because it would take his focus off of football.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," the Eagles’ defensive back said. “The NCAA is going to make a decision with it. If they feel like they have to make a move on it they will.”

Here's to hoping it does get approved. It would be nice not to see the student-athletes not feel like they have no say when it comes to the NCAA. Creecy and Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson both did say they would love to see the student-athletes have a voice.

"I feel like, we work hard. We're the guys actually doing it, so giving us a voice will be really good," Creecy said.

"A lot of student athletes would have their concerns voiced. That would be good," Johnson added. He also said he hadn't spent too much time looking into the plan.

I don't really blame the guys. Why spend precious time looking into something you don't have a say in yet. It makes me think back to when I went to college. During orientation and the first-year seminar course we had to take, where they constantly reminded us that there was a formula to "good" studying. Something about for every hour in class you should spend two or three hours studying material — or something along those lines. Pardon me for forgetting, because I never actually had time to do it. Just think about that for a minute. I had a normal part-time job and didn't have enough time in the day.

Imagine if I had a full-time job I wasn't getting paid for.