West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee has changed his stance on the proposal to expand the College Football Playoff to 12 teams.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Athenaeum on Tuesday, Gee explained that he would not vote to expand the playoff after he initially supported the change.
“I am on the College Football Playoff Board of Directors [Managers] and I was a strong advocate for the 12-team playoff,” Gee said. “I am now no longer because I think with this changing environment, we want to keep it very narrow and keep it so there is a lot of opportunity to reconfigure what we’re doing in athletics.”
College athletics has seen significant changes over the past few months and no other sport has been the focal point more than college football.
In late June, it was announced that the College Football Playoff board was prepared to make a shift to expand the four-team College Football Playoff field to 12 teams. When this potential move was announced, there was wide support for expanding the playoff.
But now, Gee says it is on “life support.”
“I think it is on life support now,” Gee said. “I have one of the votes and I think it nearly needs to be unanimous and I’m not voting for it. I think the Big Ten will not vote for it and the Pac-12 will probably not vote for it either.”
“It’s one of those ideas that I think was very good when there was stability. When there's instability, the idea becomes less appropriate.”
The instability that Gee is referring to is the momentous announcements that came in July about schools changing conferences. The two biggest culprits were Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12. Both schools have made deals with the SEC to join the conference by 2025.
West Virginia has remained stout in its support of the Big 12. Gee said he sees this as an important show of unity.
“The world is really upside down in terms of college sports,” Gee said. “Our choices are pretty clear and one is the fact that we [the remaining eight Big 12 schools] could potentially affiliate with another conference. We could expand our numbers and because we’re smaller, we have agility.”
On Tuesday, it was announced that the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC have formed an alliance together to rebel against the growing power of the SEC. According to Pac-12 commissioner, George Kliavkoff, the main purpose of this alliance is to support student-athletes.
“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” Kliavkoff said in a statement. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”
Gee acknowledged that West Virginia and the rest of the Big 12 was not a part of this alliance due to its ties for the next four years with Oklahoma and Texas.
“The Big 12 is not in that alliance, at the moment and part of the reason is the fact that we still have four years of being a Big 12, because we own all the media rights to Texas and Oklahoma,” Gee said. “The others didn’t want to have Texas and Oklahoma in on their parade.”