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Appalachian State is the latest athletic department to join Collegiate Sports Connect. App State becomes the fourth Sun Belt member to use Connect for a marketplace advantage. Want a demo of Connect? Click here.
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The NCAA has named Massachusetts Governor/incoming NCAA President Baker’s Chief of Staff Buckley as SVP of External Affairs. Baker: “Tim's ability to work across complex organizations and deliver results will be an asset as the Association works through the rapidly changing regulatory environment for college athletics." (link)
NCAA SVP for Basketball Gavitt tells The Athletic’s Auerbach and Vorkunov that when the MBB and WBB committees take up the topic of tournament expansion this summer it’ll be the first time during his tenure the topic will receive serious consideration. “This is a different time because it’s coming as a recommendation from the Transformation Committee and the Division I Board. So I’m sure the committees will give it the appropriate consideration and review, but it’ll be interesting to see what kind of appetite there is. It’s a national championship that’s really outstanding right now. You’d have to have very compelling reasons to consider changing what’s really, really outstanding.” VCU AD McLaughlin: “I’ve never quite understood that basically half of FBS participates in bowl games, but the NCAA tournament — which is the best sporting event on Earth — doesn’t have the same high proportion of access.” Whatever the outcome, SEC Commissioner Sankey asserts there is “no element right now in college athletics that shouldn’t be subject to review — including postseason opportunities.” (link)
The Pac-12 Conference Board today released the following statement: “The 10 Pac-12 universities look forward to consummating successful media rights deal(s) in the very near future. Based upon positive conversations with multiple potential media rights partners over the past weeks, we remain highly confident in our future growth and success as a conference and united in our commitment to one another.” (link)
Louisville will hang a banner commemorating the 2013 MBB team, whose national championship was vacated. The banner will read “2013 Final Coaches Poll #1.” Cardinals AD Heird: "Obviously, we want to give the opportunity to (that team) and to our fans to recognize those achievements. And so that's the Clemson game, I believe (on Feb. 18). So we're going to do everything that we're allowed to do. Are we going to have some conversations about some things that we're allowed to do? Yes, we will do that from an NCAA standpoint. And once again, looking at the entirety of the picture, you know, in that NCAA case decision, those sanctions, it was very clear that we cannot recognize various teams in any form or fashion from a public standpoint. But is there an opportunity? Or is there a path forward to try to do that? We're going to try." (link)
In the first of a three-part interview, Toledo AD Blair discusses a range of topics pertaining to his first year on the job, including the impact of NIL, about which he says: “If you’re at a Power Five program and you get a massive TV deal, your collective really becomes a lot of your fundraising outside of your facilities because you can just say, ‘Hey, put all your efforts towards that.’ I think it gets interesting at our level of fundraising for basic necessities like paying salaries, operations — I call it keeping the lights on. We can’t cannibalize that basic fundraising. At the same time, NIL is necessary in college athletics today, and particularly for us, I view it as a retention strategy.” Regarding whether it’s imperative that Toledo provide Alston awards to student-athletes, Blair stops short of agreeing on that terminology but acknowledges that “it's got to be part of the thought process moving forward. … For a student-athlete, that $6,000 [from Alston] or $6,000 through NIL feels just about the same from their end. The difference is Alston is done by the athletic department, and we can do it across the board in line with Title IX.” Lots more in the full interview. (link)
Auburn AD Cohen talks about his dispassionate approach to the hiring of FB HC Freeze as well as his response to pushback, telling AL.com’s Wilborn: “I don’t get to decide how people feel. I’m powerless over that. I’m charged with making the best decision for Auburn. I’m not saying that people’s emotions and feelings aren’t their own. I’m not saying they’re not important. However, I know what I’m charged with doing. My job is to hire the best person for the position. …“It’s obvious in today’s society that negative gets you more. I didn’t want that to be one of the decision-makers for me. There was going to be some form of criticism, no matter who we hired at Auburn. But, knowing what I know, the amount of work we put into our background check, and the amount of work we did getting to know Hugh in every way, I felt very comfortable with the decision.” (link)
DePaul Executive Assoc. AD for Revenue Generation and Strategic Initiatives Stapleton joins the WeAreDePaul podcast to discuss his role with the Blue Demons, the return of the Billy Blue Demon logo, NIL initiatives, the game day experience and more. Stapleton, who worked with Blue Demons AD Peevy at Kentucky, says of Peevy’s leadership style: “He really is relentless in the pursuit of goals, and he has a real knack for the student-athlete experience, and you’re seeing that here with some of the investments that are being made. He has a knack for self-generated revenues, he has a knack for new technologies. He’s told me you always take the pitch… you never know, it could be the new next best thing. He’s a visionary. … He’s very into building a culture of empowerment and ownership and then having the accountability on the back side. One of the first things the department did when Peevy took over was to conduct a brand identity analysis which eventually led to the decision to bring back Billy Blue Demon.” Full interview. (link)
The Athletic’s O’Neil asserts New Mexico State must part ways with MBB HC Heiar, writing: “The NCAA has a fairly new enforcement policy. Strict liability, they call it. Essentially it means that a coach can no longer use the ‘I didn’t know about it’ defense when it comes to violations committed by staff members. The head coach is responsible for what goes on in his program. Surely if that applies to something as silly as a staff member contacting a recruit during a no-contact period, or inappropriately middle-manning an NIL deal, it ought to apply here. Perhaps it’s unreasonable to expect a coach to know every little thing his players are doing, but when things run this far afoul of right and wrong, the coach is leading a poisoned program.” O’Neil emphasizes that even amid the backdrop of all the other off-court problems plaguing the program this season, “players were allegedly abusing their teammate. Over and over again. You do that if you are cruel. You do that if you are ignorant. But you also do that if you think you can get away with it. Clearly the Aggies did.” (link)
+ Notre Dame MBB HC Brey tells Stadium’s Goodman that while he is stepping down after this season, he’s not retiring and is “definitely not done coaching.” (link)
+ Akron extends FB HC Moorhead through 2027, per ESPN’s Thamel, who reports the deal “also includes a retention bonus structure that puts his salary in the middle of the pack in the Mid-American Conference.” (link)
+ The SEC has named Alabama Director of Internal Affairs/UA System Liaison McDonald as Assoc. Commissioner for Academic Relations. (link)
+ Washington Deputy AD/Chief of Staff Fee joins D1.ticker/Connect's Garcia Cichosz to share more about the open Senior Assoc. AD/CFO position with the Huskies. Fee describes the "grit, resiliency and service"-oriented mindset within the senior leadership team, discusses the department's approach to NIL, shares more about the specific duties and early projects for the CFO, including a transition to the Workday platform, and explains why the PNW is one of the most attractive places to live and work across college athletics. More details only on Connect. (link)
Sportradar Head of Integrity Services for North America and Athlete Wellbeing for Global Brown joins D1.ticker/Connect's Garcia Cichosz to discuss the Athlete Wellbeing program, developed to address the increase in athlete mental health concerns related to the rise of sports betting. Brown, who brings experience from the NCAA national office, talks through the biggest pain points athletic departments experience related to education on integrity and sports betting and shares takeaways from Sportsradar's first season in partnership with Bowl Season. Brown: "Student athletes experience common mental health conditions, whether that be depression, anxiety, the pressure to perform, social isolations. Does sports betting impact those common mental health conditions? That's one of the things we wanted to support [for] the collegiate stakeholders." Full conversation on Connect. (link)
The Athletic’s Tucker and Marks examine how Overtime Elite’s role has evolved in the MBB landscape, as evidenced by the change in Kentucky HC Calipari’s attitude toward the organization. Two years ago, Calipari specifically identified OTE as a competitor. Now, he’s touring their facilities and giving “a full-throated endorsement of the league and its developmental value. He basically filmed a free commercial for his one-time nemesis. In the blink of an eye, OTE went from foe to friend of college basketball,” Tucker and Marks write. OTE CEO Porter: “I don’t think that I had personally appreciated that or tuned into that as much, and then when I realized that signing certain players who are being followed by all these blogs — Kentucky Wire or whatever they’re called — it’s like, oh, yeah, that’s a whole other realm.” (link)
The playing surface at State Farm Stadium - also a common College Football Playoff venue - continues to be a major character in last night’s Super Bowl, as The Athletic’s Haller reports players on both sides say turf left much to be desired. Philadelphia Eagles LB Reddick: “I’m not going to lie: It was the worst field I’ve ever played on. It was very disappointing. It’s the NFL. You would think it would be better so we could get some better play, but it is what it is. I don’t know. Maybe the league will look at it and tell Arizona they got to step their stuff up.” While neither team wanted to cite the turf as a factor in their performance – “It’s not like we were playing on ice and they were playing on grass,” as Eagles HC Sirianni put it – Chiefs DE Clark observes: “I’ve been playing football since I was 7. The best grass I ever played on was grass that’s naturally there. The best grass I ever played on was grass that doesn’t move, that doesn’t get shifted inside and outside.” (link)
+ Kansas City in partnership with INFLCR is launching the KC Roos Exchange to connect student-athletes with NIL opportunities. (link)
+ Take a look at the NHL’s rink setup at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium for tomorrow’s Hurricanes-Capitals Stadium Series matchup. (link)
+ MLB’s Joint Competition Committee has voted unanimously to make its extra innings rule whereby a runner will be placed on second at the start of each inning permanent for all regular season games moving forward. D1Baseball’s Rogers: “With MLB making this permanent, I would keep an eye on this as it pertains to college baseball moving forward. As it stands, [college baseball HCs] can agree before a game to implement specialty extra-inning rules, but is NOT required (yet).” (link, link)
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