Experts anticipate more changes to the athletic conference alignment in the wake Texas and Oklahoma’s departures from the Big 12 for SEC, and UCLA and USC moving out of the Pac-12 for Big Ten. The ALL INS Campus Democracy Challenge supports 12 athletic conference voter challenges and has some insight for conference leaders about what conference leaders can do to make the most of this cosmic realignment. What if the most important thing for athletic conferences was to position themselves as having the highest voter turnout and voter registration rate, rather than the largest media markets.
What if we paid more attention to the student-voting powerhouse athletic conferences of New England Small College Athletic Conference ( NESCAC and Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference [ MIAC]? These conferences had 2020 conference voter turnout rates at 90.6% and 98%, respectively.
These data are based upon campus voting data from NSLVE at Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education. Our unsolicited recommendations for athletic directors, college and university presidents and television executives will be based on NSLVE data.
Let’s look at ALL IN’s proposed athletic conference reorganization. The proposed campuses all had 2020 voter turnout rates of 75-87%, and voter registration rates of 90-99%. Refer to the following: In 2020, the average student voter turnout was 66%, and the average student voter registration was 83%.
Big 12 Votes
The Big 12 has been the most affected by the conference realignment changes. With the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas at Austin about to depart for the Southeastern Conference, we’ll begin with them. To increase the number of student voters in the conference, the Big 12 quickly added Brigham Young University to the mix, as well as the University of Central Florida, Cincinnati, and University of Houston.
The Big 12 has a fantastic opportunity to add perennial voters champions and more states that have student voters to the conference.
Big Ten Voting Challenge
The Big Ten surprised college sports fans by agreeing to include the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2024. These California football teams will be promoting voting in November at the chilly Kinnick Stadium of the University of Iowa and Camp Randall of the University of Wisconsin.
The Big Ten clearly wants student voters in the most diverse voting districts possible. The Big Ten should include Georgia College & State University and New College Florida to help achieve this goal.
Pac-12 Voting Challenge
The Big Ten took the Pac-12 by surprise, much like the earthquakes that shake West Coast. The Pac-12 can have options with states that have pro-voter laws in their traditional footprint. They could easily reload campuses in California, Colorado and Oregon. Washington is not a problem. The Pac-12 can still be the “Conference of Champions” by poaching Big Ten campus voting champions. The Pac-12 should add Dickinson College, Gustavus Adolphus University and Kalamazoo College to its ranks.
There are many states along the Atlantic Coast Conference’s coast that can be used to expand the ACC. The College of the Atlantic should be added to the ACC before the SEC takes over some of the best colleges and universities east of the Mississippi River.
We hope that college students will get as much attention as the voters in 2022 Midterm Elections. This includes the voting rates of college student athletes participating in the NCAA’s #ALLVOTENOPLAY.
The coach has a vital role in helping their student athletes develop their voting habits. More than 1,200 college coaches signed ALL INS’s Coaches Volunteer Engagement Pledge in 2020 to help their student athletes become informed and confident voters.
Campuses that participated in ALL IN had an average turnout of 3.7 percentage points higher during the 2020 election. ALL IN is looking forward to recognizing the impressive student voting results of the Athletic Conference Voting Challenges as well as all institutions involved in ALL IN.
As more universities join the Athletic Conference Voting Challenges, we’ll be ready for them to realign it. We also support colleges and universities in instituting nonpartisan democratic engagement. While we wait for future conference realignments to take place, coaches can take the nonpartisan Coaches Volter Engagement Pledge. You can register to vote, check you voter registration, or pledge to vote at AllintoVote.org.
More than 915 universities and colleges participate in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Find out more about ALL In and make a donation to help us advance our work.
Ryan Drysdale is the Director of Impact & State Networks at Civic Nation’s ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
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Raye Maguire Brand Contributor Civic Nation Paid Program Aug 3, 2022 9:00 AM EDT