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Congratulations to Clemson on taking home the men’s soccer national championship, outlasting Notre Dame 2-1. The title is the ACC’s fourth national championship of the fall sports season. (link, link)
NCAA President Charlie Baker talks with Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde about his student-athlete compensation proposal and doesn’t dispute that it’s at least in part a way of signaling to Congress that college sports is being proactive. “I’m working on the theory that not just people in Congress, but people in and around college sports, who would like to see the NCAA chart a course here, create a direction. I certainly heard from a lot of the folks I talked to who said, ‘You all need to be forward-facing if we’re going to make progress here.’ Which I understand.” The proposal has already achieved its goal of sparking a conversation, and Baker tells Forde: “One of the best parts of this, I’ve already had people reach out to me and say, ‘What about doing this instead?’ The one thing I said to people when I was talking to them, I said, ‘Don’t say no.’ People have already started to take that idea and propose alternatives to it—which is fine. That’s kind of the whole purpose of it. I’ve seen very little pushback. The big message from almost everybody was, ‘Thank God we’re finally talking about the elephant in the room.’“ Baker goes on to remark: “I’m very anxious to make sure that when we come out of this, we don’t lose all the sports that are the so-called non-revenue-producing sports. I want those to continue to be a big part of the show. But at the same time, we’ve got to recognize—especially at the highest-resourced institutions—more has got to be done here.” (link)
Oregon State and Washington State last week blocked a multi-million-dollar midyear revenue distribution from the Pac-12 office to the campuses, The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner reports. The distribution, which this year would’ve been roughly $5M per school, is not required by the bylaws but has been traditionally dispersed, and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff notified the schools on December 5 that, pursuant to past practice, the conference was prepared to distribute 15% of its annual revenue to the campuses. However, Kliavkoff added: “Because of the ongoing litigation between our members, our view is that we can only make the December distribution with the unanimous approval of our members and are therefore not planning to make this distribution in the absence of such a vote. The Pac-12 would of course call for such a vote if requested by any member.” WSU and OSU say in a joint statement that “as the only two remaining members, OSU and WSU are the only schools committed to the best interest of the Pac-12. That means taking responsible steps to protect the assets of the Conference and plan for the future. No member acting in the Pac-12’s best interest would allow departing schools to drain the Conference’s assets on their way out the door, while they refuse to pay their fair share of the liabilities.” The 10 outbound members assert that “OSU and WSU’s refusal to agree to it shows that the two schools are abusing their position to injure our programs and athletes in violation of all prior precedents.” (link)
Wilner adds via X: “Not in the article below but of note: 12/12 is deadline for motions for review to WA Supreme Court. We could know by end of the week/early next if the high court will take the case for review (Olympia) or send to appellate (Spokane). My speculation only: If Spokane, we could see settlement soon, If Olympia, case could drag for months.” (link)
SBJ’s Ben Portnoy ponders what the future of major college football looks like in Las Vegas now that the Pac-12 will soon dissolve in its current form. Las Vegas Bowl Executive Director John Saccenti is bullish, telling Portnoy: “This game [the Pac-12 championship] sold out before they even had the teams official. That says a lot about, in my opinion, what the game means, but it says a lot about the destination.” UNLV AD Erick Harper adds: “No disrespect, but everybody wants to come to Vegas. Whether it’s to go to a show, 10 different five-star restaurants or go gamble, I think there’s just so many things [to do]. It’s Disneyland for adults.” The Pac-12’s absence also opens a window for the Big Ten and the Big 12, each with schools in the former Pac-12 footprint, to consider hosting their conference championships, and bdG Sports Chairman/CEO Brooks Downing tells Portnoy: “I just think if you’re the Big Ten and the Big 12, not looking at that as a market for one of your conference championships, first and foremost, that’s a mistake.” (link)
Awful Announcing’s Daniel Kaplan wonders whether Apple “lowballing” the Pac-12 for its media rights and Amazon declining to bid on English Premier League rights signal a decline in interest in live sports among streaming companies. Crakes Media Principal Patrick Crakes: “There’s the narrative about, I guess it kind of all coalesced into this idea, is that if Amazon wanted to be involved in sports, they would want to be involved in sports in the way that ESPN or Fox Sports, or Sky Sports or NBC or CBS is. Beware the narrative.” Desser Media President Ed Desser adds that, unlike traditional linear companies, Amazon and Apple “don’t have to program 24/7. They’ve got a different methodology for choosing what they want to do.” While Desser believes the recent developments are not red flags, Crakes points out Amazon has yet to make another investment like the one it made in Thursday Night Football. “Maybe Thursday Night Football is enough with five NASCAR races; by the way, five NASCAR races feel like an experiment. They’re also not just not spending willy nilly everywhere, right? And I don’t think anyone should expect that anymore. And by the way, it was unfair to ever expect that of them.” (link)
Clemson is teaming up with D1.relocation, joining an expanding list of athletic departments across the country to utilize the firm’s customized relocation services for incoming athletic administrators and coaches. Tigers Asst. AD for Personnel Engagement and Development Jordy Kirr: “As we continue to focus on how we welcome and socialize new employees into the Clemson Family, D1.relocation will be a critical addition to our onboarding toolbox. Daniel Feig and the D1.relocation team understand that onboarding is more than a checklist, and we fully trust that their concierge service will simplify the transition to Clemson, SC and enhance the experience for new staff members.” (link)
People & Places…
+Massachusetts names Purdue Asst. AD for Major Gifts Drew St. Aubin as its new Chief Development Officer, per CollegeAD. (link)
+Sports Illustrated publisher The Arena Group has parted ways with CEO Ross Levinsohn, who will be replaced by 5-Hour Energy Founder Manoj Bhargava, who owns a majority stake in The Arena Group. Asked whether the recent C-suite changes have anything to do with allegations that Sports Illustrated used AI to write articles, a spokesperson for the company tells CNN: “We have nothing further to add to the company’s prior statements regarding AI.” (link)
+Marquette taps Maryville (DII) Men’s Soccer HC David Korn for the same role. (link)
+IUPUI Men’s Soccer HC Sid van Druenen inks a two-year extension that could keep him on the Jaguars’ sidelines through 2025. (link)
Check out some early pictures of heavy machinery starting to rip apart David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium as major changes are on the way. Wonder if the Jayhawks raised money around giving fans/donors a chance to sit behind the wheel of that massive excavator? (link)
SBJ’s Ben Fischer profiles how NFL teams are using the league’s Unified View of the Fan integrated customer database to sell tickets and explains that the “league-level database mostly contains information teams would have had to buy independently until recently: Data generated by EA Sports, Fanatics, sportsbooks, Amazon Prime and dozens of other parts of the sports fan ecosystem that don’t necessarily overlap with ticket buyers.” By utilizing that data, the Detroit Lions built a new group of customers to target: those who had never been to Ford Field but were on record buying Lions merchandise or playing as the Lions in recent versions of EA Sports’ Madden video games. The franchise consequently reached nearly 400K new potential fans, and Fischer notes that engagement with the email grew by 30% compared with the usual click-through rates. While that didn’t necessarily translate into ticket sales for the targeted game (a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars), SVP of Strategy and Analytics Ashton Mullinix is optimistic about the potential. “I knew we were working in a bit of a silo and didn’t have as much data as we’d liked. It’s one of the reasons I’m excited about this program. The number is going to keep growing as we identify different areas of the business and break down those walls.” NFL Chief Data and Analytics Officer Paul Ballew adds: “The journey on this has always come down to the fact that, if you can see and know fans better, and — respectfully, with permission — engage them, we can take it to the next level in terms of deepening that relationship.” (link)
S&P Global Ratings is projecting a “bifurcated” outlook for higher education next year, with strong institutions faring well and less selective colleges expected to face challenges. According to its report, S&P forecasts operating pressures will increase in 2024 with enrollment challenges and wage and expense growth combining for “weaker” operating margins than 2023. “Although we expect greater economic stresses in 2024, we also expect higher-rated institutions with solid demand will maintain their creditworthiness as they continue to generate positive cash flow and operating margins, thus sustaining their healthy balance sheets.” (link)
Yesterday's Evening Standard...
SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland, MEAC Commissioner Sonja Stills, SIAC (DII) Commissioner Anthony Holloman and CIAA (DII) Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams-Parker met with federal lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to discuss pending NIL bills they say will negatively impact HBCUs. Stills, for instance, mentioned the possibility of student-athletes becoming employees. “We know that about 80% of our students are on some type of financial aid, federal grant, etc. So, if student-athletes are employees, they will have to pay taxes. If they are already on financial aid, they will have to get a loan to pay those taxes on the salary they will be getting. So the institutions will have to find money to pay taxes for those student-athletes as well." Beyond that, Stills pointed to the impact such bills could have on their institutions writ large. “If enrollment goes down, the trickle effect is funding goes down to those institutions. It impacts the community itself because a lot of our institutions are within the inner city, in those underserved communities. And so the jobs that surround athletics will be gone. Our messaging is to understand that the bills are trying to get at this 1%. It's the 99% of us can't afford this." (link)
As stakeholders continue to digest NCAA President Charlie Baker’s student-athlete compensation proposal, On3’s Eric Prisbell contends securing some type of antitrust protection from Congress is still “mission-critical” given the myriad legal threats still facing the enterprise. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey: “We've got a responsibility to engage in that venue [Congress] given the complexity of what is now in front of us and decisions not to do certain things in the past." Pittsburgh AD Heather Lyke adds that it’s "really important to get a bill and to get antitrust protection. Keep kids as students and protect all of college sports. If we start paying them, Division II and III [are at risk], and how do you even keep all of Division I together? So many people couldn't afford it." Meanwhile, Walker Jones, executive director of the Ole Miss-focused Grove Collective, says the NCAA’s reputation isn’t doing it any favors. “You [would be] giving the organization that created a lot of these ills the power back, and the trust that they're going to go fix it with the athletes' best interests in mind, when all they have done for decades is not have the athletes' best interests in mind. I think they're going to have a hard time getting that antitrust exemption because of decades of manipulating the marketplace.” (link)
Sportico’s Michael McCann points out NCAA President Charlie Baker’s player compensation proposal has several issues that would need to be addressed, including its Title IX ramifications. “Imagine a school pays its male and female athletes $30K and complies with Title IX. Now imagine this school also pays the star quarterback $2.5M and the future NBA lottery pick point guard $1.5M in what the school labels ‘NIL’ and doesn’t pay offsetting ‘NIL’ amounts to athletes on women’s teams. Would that arrangement comply with Title IX? When NIL is paid by a third party, such as a company that pays the athlete to influence or endorse, Title IX is not at issue.” Meanwhile, the same issue regarding pay-for-play remains if schools essentially act as their own collectives, as the NLRB or a court could find that “a payment cloaked as ‘NIL’ is in fact a wage. … Employers must also pay payroll taxes and almost all states require that employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance; calling a wage ‘NIL’ doesn’t mean it’s not a wage.” Challenges aside, McCann notes Baker’s proposal is, if nothing else, a place to start. “It’s a plan, after all, and will no doubt undergo multiple revisions. … That’s step one in a long walk, but sometimes the first step is the hardest.” (link)
After entering 2023 on a note of uncertainty, executive search firms have by and large reported record years, and SBJ’s Terry Lefton notes: “Causality is always complex, but it turns out one of the leading catalysts is a familiar culprit: Private equity’s influence and ownership has expanded from pervasive to omnipresent across sports. And that’s even before PE is much of a factor in pro franchise ownership — though it’s surely trending in that direction.” TurnkeyZRG Chairman/CEO Lev Perna: Private equity has moved into the space so extensively that it’s raising the cost of talent for everybody — whether in sports or out. Even teams and properties without private equity ownership are having to look at a PE compensation structure.” As such, sports executive talent is increasingly looking to non-traditional paths, and Perna adds: “It used to be the most talented people wanted to work for and run a team. Not anymore. They are going to agencies, which are usually PE-owned, and they can get better packages. That’s hurting the quality and caliber of talent applying to teams and leagues.” In college sports specifically, recruiters report there has been more involvement from governing boards than in the past. And Lefton notes there is the “foundation of what is seen as an eventual split of the traditional athletic director’s role into two jobs.” Eastman-Beaudine President Bob Beaudine: “Underneath an AD in the future there will be someone who is in charge of everything off the field of play, is also very talented at fundraising and has an entire analytics department reporting in to him or her.” Perna adds: “Certainly that’s the structure a PE firm would want if they get involved in colleges.” (link)
+SBJ names Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark to this year’s list of Most Influential individuals in the college conferences category. (link)
+Teamworks Founder/CEO Zach Maurides has been named as a finalist for SBJ’s Technology Executive of the Year award. Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on March 5. (link)
+IU Indianapolis has selected Missouri Provost Latha Ramchand as its EVP/Chancellor, effective February 12. (link)
+McNeese State President Daryl Burckel will step down after nearly seven years at the helm, effective June 30. (link)
+ Former Louisville AD Vince Tyra has been named CEO of Gildan Activewear, Inc. The company was worth approximately $6B as of Monday’s stock price. (link)
+Louisiana has named Xavier Director of Development Trevor Starcher as Assoc. AD for Development. (link)
+NC State taps New Hampshire Men’s Soccer HC Marc Hubbard for the same position. (link)
+Cal taps UCLA AHC Jen Malcom for its Volleyball HC post. (link)
+Northwestern and Volleyball HC Shane Davis mutually agree to part ways after eight seasons. (link)
+UNC Asheville will not renew the contract of Volleyball HC Amber Haver, who just completed her first season. The decision comes after parents of student-athletes voiced concerns of verbal harassment and body shaming to Bulldogs AD Janet Cone and Chancellor Kimberly van Noort. Cone: “The University has decided not to reappoint Ms. Haver at the expiration of her current appointment. We appreciate the contributions Amber has made to UNC Asheville.” (link)
+Eastern Michigan parts ways with Women’s Basketball HC Fred Castro. (link)
+McNeese State Men’s Basketball HC Will Wade’s 10-game suspension is up, and the Cowboys have released a “Willy the Kid” video to mark the occasion. (link)
The NCAA has engaged Signify Group to utilize its Threat Matrix artificial intelligence service to “support the Association in studying and responding to online abuse and threats directed at NCAA Championship participants including student-athletes, coaches, officials and committee members.” The pilot will go live this month and initially focus on Twitter (X), Instagram and TikTok. The Threat Matrix project will offer various capabilities, including monitoring, detection and analysis of the levels of abuse and threat in over 35 languages as well as images and emojis; analysis of abuse related to sports betting; reporting procedures for notifying key stakeholders, including involved individuals and teams, local organizers, law enforcement and social media platforms; direct coordination with social media platforms to report abuses and encourage removal of content and other appropriate sanctioning of account holders; and providing data to support the NCAA’s understanding of the scale and nature of online abuse and threats in college sports, as well as informing future educational and policy developments. (link)
Montana AD Kent Haslam provides an update on the delays that have beset construction of the Grizzlies’ indoor practice facility: "It was a combination of just the permitting delays pushed us back a little bit that we had during the summer. And then an untimely, wet fall, the timing of when it happened, just got the base to a point where we don't want to risk putting turf in and then in a couple of years having it sinking or bubbling or anything like that. So under the advice of FieldTurf, they said, look, let's wait until this is dry, let's get this thing done right, not just do it quickly." The project was originally slated to be completed in the fall, albeit on an aggressive timeline, and now that winter is here, the base of the facility can't be compacted the way they need it to be to install the turf field. Haslam: “We want to have things done quick. But, our donors are understanding, and understanding how this process works. We kept them in the loop as to how things were pausing, why they were pausing. And people have been really supportive.” (link)
Demolition to portions of Louisiana’s Our Lady of Lourdes Stadium has begun to make way for renovations. Specifically, the west side of the stadium will be coming down and a new tower built as part of the $65M project, which will also include 34 suites, 40 loge boxes, 524 club seats, an indoor club, five new chairback sections in the lower west bowl and enhanced amenities for all fans with a total capacity of more than 30K. (link)
Illinois State Men’s Basketball HC Ryan Pedone has apologized for his reaction to Norfolk State HCRobert Jones during this weekend’s game, which included a brief dustup between the two after an NSU player was reportedly the subject of racist comments from fans. Pedon: “I reached out this morning to Coach Robert Jones to offer my apology for my reaction during our game last night. I take full responsibility for my actions. I was wrong for allowing the situation to escalate. I expressed to Coach Jones after the game [that] I absolutely did not hear what he was saying to me. Had I heard Coach Jones, my response would have been completely different. “ NSU in a statement from President Javaune Adams-Gaston and AD Melody Webb indicated that “we have heard from the president and athletic director of Illinois State University. They have stated the behavior shown to our student-athletes at the Horton Field House is not representative of their institution and they will fully investigate this incident. We acknowledge their apology and look forward to hearing the results of their investigation.” Full statements. (link)
Northern Iowa’s United Faculty union is calling for an end to the practice of shifting general university funds to athletics and is urging UNI to become self-supporting like fellow DI public universities Iowa and Iowa State. Faculty President Christopher Martin: “What we'd like to see going forward is that the auxiliary units be self-sustaining. … On the academic side, we're really just cut to the bone. We have so many faculty lines that we need to have filled and replaced.” Nearly every department, Martin adds, is “just kind of begging for more faculty. We're really just trying to do our best to keep up the academic excellence with fewer and fewer faculty.” UNI Director of University Relations Pete Moris acknowledges that student success and faculty support are central to the university’s mission but notes: “Supporting successful NCAA Division I athletic programs at UNI is integral in helping drive applications, admissions and financial giving to the institution. The success of our student-athletes in the classroom and in competition elevates the national profile of our entire institution, helping energize our campus and our alumni base and our greater Cedar Valley community.” The total number of faculty at UNI has fallen from 788 to 606 in the past 10 years. (link)
UCF has received a “legacy gift commitment” from former football student-athlete Ron Thow. The gift is the largest from a football alumnus in UCF history and will support extensive upgrades to the football locker room, which will be named the Thow Family Locker Room in recognition of Thow’s generosity. (link)
The Georgia Southern-focused Eagle Nation Collective will host a concert featuring Cole Swindell to raise money for its NIL endeavors. (link)
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(NEW!) Vice President and Director of Athletics (Butler University / Indianapolis, IN): Serve as the key leader of our athletics program, an annual competitor in The BIG EAST Conference. The #1 Regional University in the Midwest. More details HERE.
(NEW!) Assistant Athletic Director, Marketing & Promotions (University of San Diego / San Diego, CA): • Designs + conducts advertising campaigns to promote USD Athletics. • Creates + implements engaging fan experiences, sponsor fulfillments, and promotions. • Enhance culture of spirit within USD! More details HERE.
(NEW!) Director of Development, Athletics (University of California, Riverside / Riverside, CA): This position will be responsible for providing support to the Senior Director of Development to enhance the philanthropic growth of UCR Athletics, includes managing approximately 150 prospects. More details HERE.
(NEW!) Assistant Director, Development (University of Wyoming - Athletics / Laramie, WY): Responsible for parking operations and assisting with all activities of athletics development/ the Cowboy Joe Club. More details HERE.
(NEW!) Assistant Director of Communications (University of North Carolina Rams Club / Chapel Hill, NC): Position will participate in multiple communications efforts as part of fundraising efforts on behalf of Carolina Athletics, focusing on branding, design, copywriting, digital media, and publications. More details HERE.
(NEW!) Development Officer - Athletics (Auburn University / Auburn, AL): The selected candidate will plan, organize, and implement fund-raising activities for one or more organization units within Auburn University. More details HERE.
(NEW!) Assistant Trainer - Volleyball (UCF Athletics / Orlando, FL): UCF Athletics at the University of Central Florida, an NCAA Division I institution and Big XII member, is seeking applications for the position of Athletic Trainer - Volleyball. More details HERE.
Job openings by discipline, posted in the past 30 days...
Athletic Academic Advisor (Florida State University / Tallahassee, FL): More details HERE.
Assistant Academic Coordinator (The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Athletics / Austin, TX): More details HERE.
Learning Specialist - Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (University of Illinois / Champaign/Urbana, IL): More details HERE.
Director of Student-Athlete Support Services/Assistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Support Services (Louisiana Tech University Athletics / Ruston, LA): More details HERE.
Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services - Football (University of North Texas / Denton, TX): More details HERE.
Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development (San Diego State University / San Diego, CA): More details HERE.
Assistant Athletic Director for Student Services (University of North Texas / Denton, TX): More details HERE.
Coordinator - Business & Finance (University Athletic Association, Inc. at the University of Florida / Gainesville, FL): More details HERE.
Associate Director of Business Operations (Louisiana Tech University / Ruston, LA): More details HERE.
Associate Athletic Director - Business Operations (University of South Alabama / Mobile, AL): More details HERE.
Assistant Athletics Director for Business Operations and Finance (UNC Asheville / Asheville, NC): More details HERE.
Associate Athletics Director, People and Culture (Dartmouth College / Hanover, NH): More details HERE.
Assistant Director of Business Operations (Mississippi State University / Starkville, MS): More details HERE.
Human Resources Director (The Rams Club/University of North Carolina / Chapel Hill, NC): More details HERE.
Director, Sport Operations (Tulane University / New Orleans, LA): More details HERE.
Assistant Athletics Director for Business Operations (Elon University / Elon, NC): More details HERE.
Assistant Director, Employee Development and Engagement (Stanford University / Stanford, CA): More details HERE.