On Tuesday, the Sun Belt announced that the league’s annual spring meetings had spawned one change in men’s basketball: Any school that schedules more than two non-Division I programs will be fined $50,000.
I like this rule, although I’m not sure just how much of an effect it’s really going to have. For starters, we’re talking about the Sun Belt here. There are only so many quality games that the teams in this conference are going to be able to play in a given season. Is anyone really going to notice if, hypothetically, Texas State plays UT-Pan American instead of a third NAIA program? Probably not.
I’m not naive to the issues that low- and mid-major programs have putting together a schedule. It’s hard for them to get non-conference home games, especially against power conference opponents, and sometimes the only way to play in front of the home fans is to do so against non-Division I teams. But they’ll still get two of those games a season, and if the worst thing to come out of this rule is that a school like Texas State has to play at Baylor and at Texas and at Texas A&M in the same season, than at the very least it should help the RPI, the school’s athletic budget and potentially give them a chance at landing a season-defining upset.
I’d really love to see the power conferences implement a rule like this, forcing the bigger schools to play more home-and-homes, whether it comes against other power conference programs or mid-major schools. The more big games that are played on campus in November and December, the better it is for the sport.