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Incoming NCAA President Baker will not relocate his office to Indianapolis and will instead maintain his residence in Massachusetts while traveling around the country to "get out and work directly with the people who make the NCAA what it is -- first and foremost the student-athletes, and the athletics administrators, coaches and conference commissioners in addition to national office staff in Indianapolis,” according to USA Today’s Wolken and Berkowitz, who note the “presumption” is that Baker will spend much of his time in Washington, D.C., in front of lawmakers. LEAD1 CEO McMillen: “I don’t think that’s a bad strategic decision to focus more attention and resources on Washington. As long as you have a myriad of states passing conflicting legislation, I don’t think you have much choice other than to have an activist Washington presence. … He’s got to restore that common touch to the NCAA. I think he’s going to be on the road, going to events, being more of a visible presence. I don’t think being in Massachusetts means he’s going to be in Massachusetts. When you run for office, you’re out there in the hustings. You go out and meet as many people as you can and listen to all these voices. It’s part of being a public official. It’s part of the game. He’s going to approach this like that.” (link)
The Athletic’s Auerbach and Vorkunov continue their exploration of what expanding the MBB tournament might look like, this time through the lens of Cinderella teams. Like most things, the devil will be in the details, and Saint Peter’s AD Paul submits: “I wouldn’t want to see a format where [the possibility of a Cinderella run] could potentially change or that could be negatively impacted. Because now you’re having all of these other teams that compete at a higher level that may sort of water down, for lack of a better term, the ability for an underdog to sort of make a run in the tournament.” Meanwhile, conference expansion threatens to make quality non-conference competition more scarce, and America East Commissioner Walker asks: “How do you build that resume that a committee could sit in a room and have enough data to say that University of Vermont is as good as Rutgers without having the opportunity for Vermont to actually play a Rutgers-like institution?” Ultimately, Auerbach and Vorkunov conclude: “An expanded tournament could alleviate Cinderella’s problem if it is built the right way. A bigger field could include more automatic qualifiers, possibly allowing more schools from smaller conferences to get in. Or it could flesh out a way to reward great low- and mid-major regular season teams to keep dancing into March even if they don’t win their conference tournaments. A larger bracket can be as kind to potential Cinderellas as its architects want it to be.” (link)
+ St. John’s Senior Deputy AD Meehan will retire at the end of the academic year, concluding her 48-year tenure with the Red Storm. (link)
+ Atlantic 10 Senior Assoc. Commissioner Richardson announces her retirement, effective at the end of the academic year. (link)
+ Charlotte promotes Assoc. AD for Development and Administration Weatherman to COO of the Athletic Foundation. (link)
+ More administrative talent moves at the likes of Michigan, North Dakota, Tulsa, Virginia, Towson, Presbyterian, Wake Forest, Boston College, USC Upstate, Georgia Tech, Morgan State & more on The Wire over at Collegiate Sports Connect. (link)
Albany AD Benson is no longer named as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by former MBB student-athlete Fizulich, who alleges he was thrown up against a locker and struck in the face by Great Danes HC Killings in 2021. The amended complaint now lists only UAlbany and Killings as defendants. The suit also accuses Killings of “tortious interference” for allegedly impeding Fizulich’s ability to continue studying at UAlbany and participate on the MBB team, as well as for allegedly interfering with his ability to transfer to another program. (link)
Former Penn State Director of Athletic Medicine Lynch talks about his assertions that Nittany Lions FB HC Franklin pressured him to rush student-athletes’ medical care, telling PennLive: “The analogy I would use is sort of being called to the principal’s office — sort of putting you in that environment that they’re in charge and they’re the boss. There’s a whole bunch of people around, and they say, ‘why are you doing it’ (medically barring a player’s participation)? That’s different than just coming off the field and asking a question. It’s the constant badgering.” Lynch filed a lawsuit against in 2019 after being dismissed from the university, but Franklin and Penn State were dropped as defendants after a judge ruled the suit was filed three days late. Still, Lynch hopes that following through with the suit against the remaining defendants, including Penn State Health, will lead to change in how care is administered. PennLive’s Luciew reports the trial is “expected to highlight specific incidents of pressure on how he was treating players for injuries and mental health issues. Lynch wouldn’t provide details to PennLive but promised ‘fireworks’ when the case goes to trial.” Lynch’s attorney Marino, however, did, contending that Franklin told Lynch and his staff not to tape the outside of players’ shoes for support because doing so would obscure the Nike swoosh. Former star RB Barkley is among those who have defended Franklin, and Lynch says he’s having difficulty getting other players to testify because “they’re afraid to talk because they’re afraid of being blackballed. Many of them want to be coaches, and they are still involved in football.” (link)
+ East Tennessee State Volleyball HC Jenkins has agreed to take the AHC post at Michigan. (link)
+ San Diego State inks Golf HC Donovan to a new five-year deal through the 2027-28 season. (link)
+ From Action Network’s McMurphy: “Texas Tech agrees to new 3-year contracts w/ DC Tim DeRuyter & OC Zach Kittley. DeRuyter’s new 3-year deal is worth $3.15M; Kittley’s 3-year deal is worth $2.55M. Also, Tech’s 8 other full-time assistants received new multi-year deals.” (link)
Vermont needs another $87M to complete its Multipurpose Center, according to a report filed with the UVM Board of Trustees, which notes has the university identified $39M in funding but will need to secure the other $48M, according to the Vermont Cynic student newspaper’s Scharf. The report states that “sources for the remaining $48M have not yet been identified, and would need to come through additional philanthropy, partnerships, and other alternative funding sources.” Total cost for the project is $154M, an increase from the original estimate of $95M in 2021. (link)
Syracuse is planning upgrades of the Kuhn Gameday Lounge to enhance the pre-game experience for the Orange’s biggest donors. The project is part of $44.7M in Phase II improvements to the lounge with $20M coming via taxpayers. Upgrades include a capacity increase from 400 to 450, and a transformation of the “space used to host pre-game festivities before basketball games into a lounge that can be utilized before each of the school’s five Dome teams play.” Orange AD Wildhack: “This is for our most supportive fans. Our court-side seat holders. We can do some things for our suite holders for football and lacrosse in terms of pregame. Think of a really, really high-end sports lounge. I think that’s the vision for this. .... It’s really going to be a transformative experience for (those fans). … We want to give them a vantage point and a gathering space that is very distinct, upscale, unique and fun.” (link)
Xavier will begin renovations to the Cintas Center by upgrading the suites. The two-year project also includes new seating options, expanded hospitality and additional gathering areas. Musketeers Asst. AD for Sales Sanders: “Each of the changes we’re making will enhance the fan experience and modernize Cintas Center. Suite level is one of the last pieces of the arena where Cintas Center shows its age. It’s critical for us to upgrade that experience, and the chance to add a new club at the same time is an opportunity too good to pass up. Demand for more variety is driving the three major seating changes." The project is expected to slightly decrease the arena’s capacity. (link)
Architects Ratio and HOK today presented its final plans for renovations to PNC Arena (home of NC State MBB) to the Raleigh Centennial Authority. The News & Observer’s DeCock describes the project as a “massive package of potential renovations that includes new clubs and suite spaces, bars overlooking the arena, more backstage space and new offices for the Carolina Hurricanes, a new entry from Edwards Mill Road and even outdoor space overlooking Carter-Finley Stadium, which will host the NHL’s Stadium Series game between the Hurricanes and Washington Capitals on Saturday.” Authority Chair Isley: “This will get us in the right mindset to get some final numbers and go back to the city and county to make sure we have the funding to do what we need to do. We’ll continue to work on that over the summer months.” (link)
Massachusetts has received a $2M lead gift from alumni Jim and Ellen Hunt to support the renovation and renaming of the "Cage," the current training facility for the men's and women's cross country and track and field teams. The estimated $8M capital project will create an indoor performance center for both programs and will be named in the Hunts’ honor. (link)
A former Northern Arizona Assoc. AD violated academic integrity rules by providing impermissible assistance to a student-athlete during a placement exam, according to an agreement released by the Committee on Infractions, which found that the student-athlete subsequently went on to compete in 10 games while ineligible. Prescribed penalties include one year of probation, a one-year show-cause for the former Assoc. AD and a vacation of records for the games in which the ineligible student-athlete competed. (link)
Robert Morris agrees to a five-year extension with Under Armour and GPSA/Natale Sporting Goods in a deal assisted by LEONA. (link)
Sunday’s LSU-South Carolina WBB matchup averaged 1.5M viewers on ESPN, reaching a peak of 1.6M, making it the most-watched WBB game on any network since 2010. (link)
The SEC has released a series of new rules intended to speed up the pace of play, according to D1Baseball's Rogers. The new rules include a 30-second timer between at bats; a 30-second timer for mound visits (coach must leave mound when time expires); 2:30 minutes for pitching changes; and a 10-run rule for conference games after seven innings. Additionally, the league has revised its inclement weather policy as it relates to the final game of a series: if the visiting team does not have classes the next day, general curfew policies can be waived. If they are waived, games can start no later than 10 PM and resume no later than midnight. (link)
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